Mbappe and Giroud shine in France victory

France, Australia’s first World Cup opponents, kept hopes of staying in the top tier of the UEFA Nations League after beating Austria 2-0 at home.

Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud scored the goals in Paris on Thursday.

Mbappe opened the scoring with another stunning goal before Giroud, who once again showed coach Didier Deschamps he’s more than a third-choice striker, sealed the world champions’ victory with a header.

France travel to Denmark, also in the Socceroos’ group in Qatar, for the final Group A1 games on Sunday.

France climbed up to third place in Group 1 with five points from as many games.

The victory came at a price, however, as defender Jules Kounde and goalkeeper Mike Maignan both picked up injuries and could join Karim Benzema, Hugo Lloris and Paul Pogba on the touchline.

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Croatia lead the group after beating Denmark 2-1.

Substitute Croatia’s Lovro Majer scored a late goal that delivered the winner two minutes after captain Christian Eriksen’s superb equalizer.

After beating the Danes in Copenhagen in June, the Croatians repeated the feat of taking 10 points from five games, a lead over Denmark in their bid for a place in the Nations League semi-finals.

Defender Borna Sosa, who was born in Zagreb’s Precko district and learned his trade at local club Dinamo before joining VfB Stuttgart, had scored the opening goal four minutes after the break with a strike from the edge of the box.

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In Brussels, Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne scored and set up another as they capitalized on a strong first-half performance to lead Wales 2-1 in Group 4 of the Nations League A at the King Baudouin Stadium defeat.

Wales were lucky to be no more than 2-0 at the break after goals from De Bruyne and Michy Batshuayi and several missed chances, but the visitors halved the deficit early in the second period when Kieffer Moore headed in from close range.

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Second-placed Belgium have 10 points from five games and travel to Amsterdam on Sunday.

They need to win by three goals to overtake the Netherlands, who top the group on 13 points, and qualify for next year’s Nations League semi-finals.

The Dutch beat Poland 2-0 away with goals from Cody Gakpo and Steven Bergwijn to take just a point from top of the group.

The unbeaten Dutch have now won four of their five Group A games in League A and sit three points clear of Belgium.

The Dutch only need a home draw against Belgium to secure a place in next year’s Nations League finals.

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