France Nations League triumph:
Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe guided France to a 2-1 victory over Spain in the 2021 Nations League final on Sunday.
The defending world champions, who came back from a two-goal deficit against Belgium in Thursday’s semi-final, went down to Mikel Oyarzabal’s second-half strike minutes after Theo Hernandez struck the crossbar.
Luis Enrique’s side, who halted Italy’s record 37-game undefeated run in Wednesday’s semi-final, was pulled back two minutes later by Benzema’s stunning flying in.
Mbappe then delivered the knockout punch, scoring after 80 minutes to give France their second title in three years, following their World Cup victory in 2018 and heartbreak at Euro 2020.
The lone significant first-half opportunity came from Marcos Alonso’s errant speculative long-range free-kick, as Spain struggled to convert their opening 66.7 percent possession.
Raphael Varane was then taken out before the break with what appeared to be a minor injury, and things only got worse for Didier Deschamps’ side after the break.
Mbappe’s clever pass almost set up an early goal, but Hernandez hit the crossbar before Oyarzabal hammered into the bottom-right corner after 64 minutes after being freed by Sergio Busquets.
Benzema and Mbappe quickly leveled, with the former moving inwards to bend a right-footed effort into the top-right corner before the latter put France ahead.
The PSG striker seemed offside as he rounded Unai Simon after Hernandez’s through ball, but a VAR check upheld the initial judgment, giving Mbappe his fourth goal involvement of the Finals – more than any other player in the France Nations League triumph.
Hugo Lloris blocked Oyarzabal’s beautiful left-footed volley before the France goalkeeper parried away Yeremi Pino’s first-time attempt to win victory in the competition’s second edition.