Mbappé and Giroud shine in France’s 2-0 victory over Austria

PARIS, Sept 22 (Reuters) – France kept its hopes of remaining in the Nations League top flight alive as goals from Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud secured a 2-0 home victory over Austria on Thursday.

Mbappe produced a stunning goal before the 35-year-old Giroud sealed victory with a header to become the oldest player to score a goal for France.

The world champions, who travel to Denmark on Sunday, moved up to third place in Group 1 with five points from as many matches.

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Victory came at a price though, with defender Jules Kounde and goalkeeper Mike Maignan suffering injuries, with Karim Benzema, Hugo Lloris and Paul Pogba likely to be joined on the sidelines.

France coach Didier Deschamps was pleased with the performance in front of an unusually enthusiastic crowd.

“We did what we had to do,” said the 1998 world champion. “Our intentions were good, everyone defended a lot, there are a lot of positives. The mentality was good, it was a very good performance.”

The hosts, who had lost two and drawn two of their previous four games, came out with all guns blazing at the Stade de France.

Mbappé fired into the top corner in the second minute, but the shot was ruled out for offside.

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Aurelien Tchouameni’s attempt from outside the box after a quick combination between Antoine Griezmann and Mbappe was deflected by Austria goalkeeper Patrick Pentz as Les Bleus increased the pressure.

Defender Kounde joined a long French injury list when he limped off the pitch with a muscle problem and Maignan was replaced by Alphonse Areola at half-time with a calf problem.

Mbappe tormented the Austrian defense with his pace and created space for his teammates, Jonathan Clauss missing a goal early in the second half.

Mbappé opened the scoring with a great shot after beating five defenders after a perfect pass from Giroud.

He propelled Austria into action but lacked accuracy in the box and it was France who scored again.

Giroud found the back of the net in the 65th minute with a precise cross from Griezmann for his 49th international goal, two short of Thierry Henry’s national record.

Giroud was 70 days older than Roger Marche when he scored for France against Spain in 1959.

“Oliver deserves it, I am very happy for him. He had difficult moments with his club but he always performed well with us. If I call him up it is to score goals. And he had many opportunities,” Deschamps told L’Equipe. .

The AC Milan striker was replaced by Ousmane Dembele to a standing ovation from the Stade de France crowd, leaving Deschamps – who has only called up Giroud in Benzema’s absence – with a tough decision ahead of November’s World Cup. .

“Don’t put words in my mouth. I didn’t say he would be there. There is competition for every position and I can only take 26 players,” Deschamps said.

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Reporting by Julien Pretot and Tommy Lund; Edited by Ed Osmond

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