Bloodied Mbappé exits France win over Austria

Football

France delivered a 100th victory for manager Didier Deschamps as they beat a tenacious and well organised Austria side 1-0 in their opening Group D match at Euro 2024 but talisman Kylian Mbappé suffered a worrying injury on Monday.

It was by no means a vintage performance though and France required an own goal by Austria defender Max Wober shortly before half-time to secure the three points.

But, three years after bowing out of Euro 2020 in the round of 16 to Switzerland, France offered enough evidence to suggest they will be go much deeper in Germany.

It proved a very mixed night for France’s captain Mbappé though as he was left still searching for his first goal in a European Championship and went off bloodied late on with a suspected broken nose.

“[His] nose is not good at all. Even if it’s just the nose, it’s the big negative point for us tonight,” said France manager Didier Deschamps after the match.

On his 80th appearance for Les Bleus the 25-year-old’s wing wizardry broke Austria’s resistance in the 38th minute when his dribble past three defenders and cross caused the unfortunate Wober to head past his goalkeeper Patrick Pentz.

But Mbappé also wasted a glorious chance to make things more comfortable for his side in the 54th minute, surprising virtually everyone in the stadium as he shot wide of the post after bursting through on goal.

France players celebrate after scoring a goal against Austria at the European Championship.
France players celebrate after scoring a goal against Austria at the European Championship.

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“Happy with what the players did even if we missed opportunities to double the tally,” Deschamps added. “It was not perfect but we were solid. We could have been more efficient offensively but it’s good to start with a win.

“There’s quality and talent but being solid and working together is also important. We’re not going to be over-confident, but it’s a good start.”

He ended up bloodied and bruised after taking a shoulder to the face in the closing minutes before being shown a yellow card having sat down on the pitch shortly after coming back on after receiving treatment.

Mbappé was finally substituted in a chaotic end to the match and there will be obvious concern about the severity of his injury.

Austria coach Ralf Rangnick promised his in-form side, with one defeat in their last 16 matches, would go toe-to-toe with France and they were as good as his word with their relentless high-pressing and tackling keeping them in the contest.

They could even have taken the lead shortly before France scored when captain Marcel Sabitzer touched a Michael Gregoritsch cross into the path of Christoph Baumgartner whose shot was deflected wide by keeper Mike Maignan.

France were more dynamic after the interval with Pentz saving well from Marcus Thuram, but the tough-tackling Austrians did not waver in their belief and their red-clad fans alongside the River Rhine roared them to the final whistle.

For all their graft and possession Austria struggled to create many clear chances as France’s returning N’Golo Kanté fully justified his return to the squad with a masterful display at the heart of midfield.

“It starts well. Everything was not perfect but we have the result we wanted, this is a good start,” Kante said. “There are solid foundations, we have to be more efficient.

“It makes me happy to be back. Things have changed, makes it feels good to get back into this jersey.”

France join the Netherlands, who they face next, on three points after the Dutch beat Poland 2-1 on Sunday.

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