- Oyarzabal gives Spain the lead
- Benzema equalises with right-foot beauty
- Mbappe employs stepover to fool Simon
- France first team to win World Cup, Euros and Nations League
Kylian Mbappe’s late, controversial winner gave France a 2-1 victory over Spain in the second Nations Cup final despite being the inferior side for long spells of the match at San Siro.
The 80th-minute goal was confirmed by the Var, England’s Stuart Attwell, after a short delay, ruling that a touch from Eric Garcia negated the fact that Mbappe was offside when the pass from Theo Hernandez was played and had instigated “a new phase of play.” Mbappe finished it beautifully, gulling Unai Simon with a step-over before firing a shot in at the near post.
Earlier Mikel Oyarzabal followed up his pair of semi-final assists against Italy with Spain’s opening goal but Karim Benzema quickly hit back before Mbappe’s winner.
It was a second successive comeback win for Didier Deschamps’ side after their thrilling 3-2 semi-final success against Belgium.
Paul Pogba and Benzema linked up well early on but Cesar Azpilicueta prevented the latter from setting up Mbappe.
Hugo Lloris saved easily from Pablo Sarabia at the other end, while Azpilicueta again thwarted Benzema with a key block.
France defender Jules Kounde survived a Var referral for a possible handball in the penalty area and Marcos Alonso then curled a free-kick just wide with Lloris, expecting a cross, helpless. France lost defender Raphael Varane to injury just before half-time, in a blow to his club side Manchester United. Dayot Upamecano took his place.
An error from Kounde allowed Sarabia to race clear down the flank, but his cross eluded Oyarzabal and Ferran Torres. A half-chance to Mbappe was then snuffed out by Alonso before the game burst into life in a dramatic three minutes.
Theo Hernandez, who scored France’s late winner against Belgium on Thursday, was the width of the crossbar away from repeating the feat, but instead Spain broke up the other end and Oyarzabal latched on to Sergio Busquets’ long pass, took on Upamecano and scored in the 64th minute.
However, France were level two minutes later as Pogba and Mbappe combined to create the chance and Benzema curled home brilliantly from a narrow angle.
Mbappe shot off target and had another effort blocked by Aymeric Laporte, while Unai Simon saved from Pogba as Didier Deschamps’ side took the upper hand.
And they got their full reward when Mbappe raced on to Hernandez’s through-ball and finish clinically beneath Simon, with the goal upheld by Var after a check for offside.
Lloris saved brilliantly from Oyarzabal’s volley, while Simon denied Mbappe a third which would have been harsh on Spain.
Simon was forward for corners in the five added minutes but Lloris’ save from substitute Yeremi Pino snuffed out the last Spanish hope.
Spain are going up for their runners-up medals
A few smiles but mostly frowns. They were the better side for 75 per cent of the match and will rightly curse a daft interpretation of the offside law for diddling them out of a chance of victory.
Offside cleared up
Mbappe was offside when Hernandez played the pass but Garcia then touched it, hence, according to the officials, starting ‘a new phase of play’.
Full time Spain 1 France 2
The world champions win the Nations League and for those who belittle the competition, France are genuinely delighted to win it. What a brilliantly entertaining second half. Who needs friendlies when making each game competitive raises the standards of commitment to an astonishing degree?
90+5 min Spain 1 France 2
Terrific save low to his right from Lloris when the corner drops to Merino to shoot. When the ball comes back in Simon gets in Pino’s way when he tries to reach a cross unmarked.
90+4 min Spain 1 France 2
Spain corner after the ball comes off Pogba’s thigh during an all hands on deck defensive effort when Spain lump it in. Up comes Simon.
90+3 min Spain 1 France 2
Spain keep bombarding the France box and headers are required from Kounde and Pogba to defuse the lastest thrust.
90+2 min Spain 1 France 2
France sub: Veretout replaces Griezmann who takes his time to depart.
90 min Spain 1 France 2
Mbappe is booked for a ‘technical’ foul designed to hold up play and thwart a Spain break. We’ll ahve five more minutes and they begin with France’s players chucking themselves in front of Oyarzabal’s shot and keeping it out. But they can’t hold on to it.
89 min Spain 1 France 2
Brilliant save from Lloris from Oyarzabal’s volley, diving to his right to block a shot that skipped up awkwardly in front of him off the turf. France break like lightning with Pogba and he fashions an opening for Mbappe who shoots straight at Simon from the right of the box.
88 min Spain 1 France 2
Griezmann, who has done a Bobby Charlton 66 final job on his former team-mate Busquets, sacrificing himself for the team by dutifully sticking to Spain’s creative hub, takes on the responsibility from the free-kick when Pogba tees him up. But he blazes his left-foot shot into orbit.
86 min Spain 1 France 2
Dubois drives towards the box and steals ahead of Laporte who leans on him from behind and he goes down. Free-kick, 22 yards out, right of centre.
84 min Spain 1 France 2
Ferran Torres departs to be replaced by Mikel Merino. Fornals came on as well, not sure for whom.
82 min Spain 1 France 2
Played onside by Marcos Alonso, he stole between Garcia and Azpilicueta, coming back upfield before darting towards goal again to run on to Hernandez’s superb pass. He runs on to it, executes a step over that fools Simon then sweeps his shot past the keeper’s right hand with his left foot and in at the near post.
81 min Spain 1 France 1
France take off Pavard and send on OL’s right-back Leo Dubois. Pavard hoys his shinpads on to the floor.
79 min Spain 1 France 1
Busquets picks out Pino on the left and he skips inside, twists, turns but fires his shot into a thicket of white-socked legs.
77 min Spain 1 France 1
Pogba lets fly with a right-foot shot from 25 yards, slicing across it first time and sending it out from the left of goal towards the right corner flag.
73 min Spain 1 France 1
Getting very broken now and end to end. Rodri whacks a shot from 25 yards as space opens up in front of him and Tchouameni throws himself in front and the ball balloons off him and over the bar for a corner that comes to naught.
71 min Spain 1 France 1
Great chance for Mbappe to the left of the D but he shanks his shot straight at Simon.
69 min Spain 1 France 1
France are looking at Azpilicueta as the most vulnerable member of the defence and twice in a minute Mbappe takes him on and sticks a chip on to the roof of the net (from an offside position) then tangle swith him to wran a corner.
67 min Spain 1 France 1
What a goal! France work it up the left from the kick-off, Benzema takes a couple of strides, opens his body to cut in on to his right and bend a shot into the top left corner. Pure Thierry Henry. Simon managed to reach it at full stretch with his finger tips but couldn’t claw it wide.
66 min Spain 1 France 0
Capitalises on a mistake from Upamecano as they tangled down the inside-left channel after Busquets won the ball and knocked it up to him. He took it into the box and shoots across the keeper and into the bottom right corner.
63 min Spain 0 France 0
Theo Hernandez crashes a shot against the underside of the cross-bar from 10 yards after being set up by Pogba and Mbappe on the overlap.
61 min Spain 0 France 0
Spain substitution: Sarabia departs to be replaced by the Yellow Submarine’s Yeremi Pino who doesn’t turn 19 for a fortnight.
60 min Spain 0 France 0
Kounde is booked for launching himself off his feet into the tackle. Gavi is playing with genuine swazz, knocking crossfield passes to feet, taking the ball in tight areas, getting right up defenders’ noses.
58 min Spain 0 France 0
Gavi goes down in the box when tackled by Tchouameni as he splits to the left of the area to take Alonso’s excellent pass. But he doesn’t appeal for a penalty and he gets up and trots off when Tchouameni clears. The Spain fans wanted one, though.
56 min Spain 0 France 0
France break upfield, overloading the Spain defence, negating Busquets positioning with pace and quick passes but the ball into the box, intended for Mbappe, slipped down the inside-right, is too soft and France let Spain off the hook.
54 min Spain 0 France 0
Spain catch Kounde napping and dispossess him. Sarabia takes it on down the left, peeling away from Kounde but his cross through the six-yard box is too far ahead of Oyarzabal.
52 min Spain 0 France 0
France are playing poorly now in possession and Spain’s midfield has established a form, if not yet decisive, grip. Kimpembe and Kounde fly into crunching tackles, only the latter’s deemed a foul by Mr Taylor.
50 min Spain 0 France 0
Pogba goes spare when fouled by Rodri inside his own box after trying to spin away from the City midfielder. He is angered by the lack of options his team-mates gave him rather than the unnecessary, get out of jail tug of the shirt.
48 min Spain 0 France 0
Busquets is OK and takes possession from the free-kick, passing it short to Azpilicueta and working it up the right.
46 min Spain 0 France 0
Pogba chips a ball from right to left for Mbappe to hare after but Garcia wins the header, knocks it back to Simon and Pogba flies in late to try to rob Busquets and stamps down on the top of his foot. Yellow card.
Half-time Spain 0 France 0
Two well-organised sides cancelling each other out so far largely because of a lack of space and precision in the pass. Both look vulnerable down the flanks. Neither has succeeded in exploiting defensive vulnerabilities out wide.
45+1 min Spain 0 France 0
Scratch that Varane has a bandage on his thigh. A hamstring, then. Busquets slides the ball down the right but Benzema gets back to stop Torres crossing. One more minute to go of stoppage time.
45 min Spain 0 France 0
Some quality play in isolated moments but it hasn’t been a very good contest so far.
44 min Spain 0 France 0
It’s his calf judging by the muscle he’s rubbing as he slumps on the bench.
42 min Spain 0 France 0
Varane can’t continue. He’s twanged a calf or hamstring on his right leg. Could mean Phil Jones returns to the Man Utd bench on Saturday if Harry Maguire is still out …
Upamecano replaces Varane.
40 min Spain 0 France 0
Gavi catches France by surprise with a darting run and Varane has to stretch to knock his cross behind before it can reach Oyarzabal. He seems to have injured himself. Indeed he eventually goes down after Sarabia sends the corner straight down Lloris’s throat.
38 min Spain 0 France 0
Pogba spots the run of Griezmann down the left of the box and chips it 40 yards to try to put it into his stride to shoot but his range is off and it skips into touch for a goalkick.
36 min Spain 0 France 0
Marcos Alonso signals as if he’s going to bend an inswinger from the right to the far post from the free-kick but instead shoots, trying to gull Lloris and sneak it in at the near post but he Lloris didn’t buy it and Alonso hooped it into the advertising hoardings in any case.
34 min Spain 0 France 0
Spain dominating possession, as they always do, by two-thirds to a third. And as French exasperation mounts, Tchouameni slides in to hack down Torres. Could have been a yellow but Anthony Taylor is keeping them in his pocket tonight.
32 min Spain 0 France 0
Alonso chips a long diagonal over to the right. There is Spanish hay to be made between the wing-backs and the wider of the three centre-backs. Not then, though.
30 min Spain 0 France 0
Nowt comes of the corner. France break up the right and Spain bomb back in numbers to throttle France’s counter. A moment before Sarabia wanted a penalty for a cross that hit Kounde on the left elbow as he jumped to block. His arm was behind him as he leapt. VAR did check, Stuart Attwell of all folk, but decided no further action was required.
27 min Spain 0 France 0
Torres floods into the space between Kimpembe and Hernandez, exploiting a misunderstanding and some after you, Claud;’ play in the left-back position, earning a corner when they finally wake up.
24 min Spain 0 France 0
Hernandez slips a pass down the left touchline to Benzema who bullocks down the wing then cuts towards the box. He plays a one-two with Griezmann and shoots with his right, trying to bend it into the bottom right corner but it is blocked befroe it’s travelled two yards and Oyarzabal picks it up and tries to trigger a counter. Varane, wise to how vulnerable his side would be to a rapid break, barrels him over instead. Free-kick.
22 min Spain 0 France 0
Rodri runs across Tchouameni in full flight and sends him tumbling at the cost of a free-kick 40 yards out. Pogba tries to chip it to Benzema to the left of the D but it’s intercepted. And Spain come back up the right.
20 min Spain 0 France 0
He’s OK but there’s another halt only a few moments later when Gavi, who is brilliant but far too ‘handsy’, shoves Hernandez over.
18 min Spain 0 France 0
Mbappe wasn’t awarded a free-kick but requires treatment nonetheless.
16 min Spain 0 France 0
Spain have grabbed the initiative back through Busquets bossing Griezmann and cutting off the out-ball to the attacking midfielder. Gavi twists and turns by the 18-yard line to try to plot a path through the box but Varane gets a toe in and France pass it up the right for Mbappe who hits the deck when Garcia beats him to the ball.
14 min Spain 0 France 0
Spain throw-in on the left and they work it across field and back again until Torres can dribble down the whitewash with a give and go but his cross, again, is scuffed and Varane boots it clear.
12 min Spain 0 France 0
Now it’s Sarabia’s turn to get in behind a defensive line, sneaking through the inside-right lane to meet Torres’s pass but he scuffs his shot too close to Lloris who tumbles forward to smother it.
10 min Spain 0 France 0
The first initiative from the corner is dealt with but Griezmann then hooks it back into the box from the right with his left and Simon flaps at the high ball as it loops over him and just beyond the far post.
8 min Spain 0 France 0
Quick inter-passing shifts the ball from Pogba to Benzema to Mbappe and from left to right. Spain are chasing shadows but Pavard’s cross comes at hip-height and Spain scramble it behind.
6 min Spain 0 France 0
Alonso and Sarabia try to make inroads up the left but they are shut down by Pavard who shifts it quickly up to Pogba. The Manchester United midfielder slides the perfect pass down the inside-right channel and Benzema is clean through on the keeper but he takes an extraneous touch to try to round Simon instead of shooting early and ends up going too wide around the keeper and cutting it back to Mbappe. Laporte gets back to intercept before it reaches Mbappe.
4 min Spain 0 France 0
France pass it around the three centre-backs after Pogba, with new natty, short, dreads is clipped. No one has found his mid or long passing range yet.
3 min Spain 0 France 0
Azpilicueta and Torres hustle the ball back from Benzema on halfway on the right and work it across field until Gavi slides in late, having lost the ball, and topples Tchouameni. Should have been a yellow but he gets away with it.
1 min Spain 0 France 0
The return of the remote controlled car carrying the nmatchball to the centre-spits, precedes Spain kicking off and launching it up the right. Theo Hernandez, the match-winner in the semi-final, lets it skip out for a France throw-in.
From Spain’s fans. Barcelona’s Gavi looks about nine rather than 17. Plays like a 25-year-old, mind.
The teams come out
Spain in their home kit, France in all white. Martin Tyler and Lee Hendrie are doing the commentary down the line from Isleworth.
Time for the national anthems.
Sky has gone late
Beginning coverage only 15 minutes before kick-off after an interminable loop of last night’s goals. Eilidh Barbour and Jamie Redknapp in the studio.
In case you were wondering …
Why Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouaemeni was preferred as a replacement for Adrien Rabiot to Jordan Veretout, who is thriving in Rome, here’s why:
And welcome to the second Nations League final, a match between Spain and the world champions France at San Siro to determine which of them will succeed Portugal, winners in 2019 after their 1-0 victory over Holland in the final, as … what exactly? Not kings of the world … or Europe … but … Lords of the European Nations?
First some team news – France’s midfielder Adrien Rabiot is out after testing positive for Covid-19 after the comeback, last-gasp semi-final victory over Belgium, Lucas Digne has returned to Everton with a hamstring injury but Antoine Griezmann is fit and firing to win his 100th cap, joining his manager, Didier Deschamps, Patrick Vieira, Olivier Giroud, Marcel Desailly, Hugo Lloris, Thierry Henry, Zinedine Zidane and Lilian Thuram as Bleu Centurions.
They may be world champs but fighting back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 was just the tonic after a bad year, restoring some of France’s vim and self-belief, says their captain, Lloris.
“Mentally speaking, we were quite down lately and we needed a key game to get back on track,” he said. “And against Belgium everything was there to find the confidence back. It was the case in the second half and I hope it will help us to start the game tomorrow with the best intentions. And I really hope we will see a great face of France. It will be tough … it will be on us to do everything we can on the pitch.”
France’s win came the day after Spain clinched a modicum of revenge for their defeat in the Euro 2020 semi-final by beating the champions of Europe, Italy, 2-1. “For many of us, it’s the first time we play a final with the national team. So it would be fantastic to lift our first trophy,” Ferran Torres, who scored La Roja’s two goals, said. “We are a very young team and tomorrow we will do our all to be able to reach that trophy.
And Torres’ chances of playing after hobbling away from the semi-final? “I’m an optimistic guy and I honestly think I have a chance to play against France,” Torres said. “I didn’t train today, I will tomorrow. We will all assess it and then we’ll see.”
Torres’ City and Spain team-mate Aymeric Laporte will definitely start and he has a point to prove after winning more than 50 caps for France at U-17, U-18, U-19 and U-21 level but being consistently over looked by Deschamps for the senior side despite being named in three full squads.
“It will be a very special meeting for me but, as I have always said, I am very focused. I am 100 per cent or even 300 per cent with Spain,” Laporte said
“I’ll give it my all. I will face former team mates [from France’s youth teams] but the only thing I think about is winning this final, that’s the most important thing for me right now.”