A packed Stade de France was celebrating well before the start of their UEFA Nations League match with the Netherlands. The France fans had come to see their World Cup winning heroes on home soil. As not many had travelled to Russia.
They were going to enjoy themselves. And though Didier Deschamps men sometimes seem to be wrapped up in the euphoria, they beat the Dutch to top their group in the end.
France Fans Celebrate Victory in Paris
As early as the first minute the awesome Kylian Mbappe illustrated his skills. Breaking down the right he jinked past a defender and tested goalie Cillessen.
Whenever the nineteen-year-old received the ball there was a buzz in the crowd. And he would open the scoring after the Dutch gifted Matuidi the chance to cross for him to supply the finish.
Soon Messi and Ronaldo will inevitably relinquish their status as the world’s greatest players. Mbappe is getting closer to taking over their mantle.
The Dutch Fight Back
France did not always have it under control. The Dutch side, led by Liverpool’s van Dijk, kept the score down to one goal. And eventually, they established pressure first when Wijnaldum was given a great chance.
Then Tete’s cross was turned in by the red-headed Ryan Babel. Perhaps they would spoil the party?
The Non-Goalscoring Scorer
Famous for being the non-goalscoring World Cup striker Olivier Giroud had seemed out of sync with the rest of the French team. Pogba (relishing the space), Griezmann (often dictating the play) and Mbappe provided the threats.
Moves often tended the break down when the ball reached Giroud. But on 75 minutes that all changed. Substitute Mendy delivered the cross and the tall frontman volleyed home for a superb winner.
He celebrated with France fans who gave him a rousing ovation. In an echo of 1998, they realised France can win World Cups without goals from strikers.
On a night of great noise and rightful celebration, France delivered another victory for the fans. Afterwards, the players would get their individual adulation. It was a pleasure to be there.
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