It took 100 days for Kylian Mbappe to emerge from the depths of despair. From his penalty which was saved when France surrendered to Switzerland in Euro 2020 and a summer of turmoil as he tried to force Paris St-Germain.
But last night in Milan, Mbappe was a hero again as he set off in a flurry of assists to score the game-winning goal in the 80th minute against Spain and as France added the Nations League to l ‘UEFA to the World Cup trophy they won three years ago.
Spain thought it was offside, they circled referee Antony Taylor and goalkeeper Unai Simon lined up the ball to take a free kick, but VAR decided yes on goal.
Kylian Mbappe can finally put his Euro 2020 penalty behind him after scoring the winner in the Nations League final
A smart finish at the near post from Unai Simon sealed the game in the second half, with the Frenchman using his quick feet
Hugo Lloris lifted the trophy as France became the first nation to complete the World Cup, Euros and League of Nations trio
Spain 4-3-3: Simon 6; Azpilicueta 6.5, Garcia 6, Laporte 6, Alonso 7; Gavi 6 (Koke ââ75), Busquets 7, Rodri 7; F. Torres 7, Oyarzabal 7.5, Sarabia 6 (Yeremy 61, 6).
Reservations: The door
Director: Luis Enrique 6.5
France 3-4-1-2: Lloris 6; KoundÃ© 6, Varane 6.5 (Upamecano 43, 6), Kimpembe 6; Pavard 6 (Dubois 80), Tchouameni 7, Pogba 8.5, T. Hernandez 7; Griezmann 6.5; Benzema 8, MbappÃ© 7.5.
Goals: Benzema, MbappÃ©
Reservations: Pogba, KoundÃ©
Director: Didier Deschamps 6.5
Ref: Anthony Taylor 6
France led after a goal from Mikel Oyarzabal which was wiped out by a superb equalizer from Karim Benzema. And they are hanging on for the victory, with two exceptional saves by Hugo Lloris in the final.
Less than six minutes into this game, Benzema had jumped aside and around goalkeeper Simon, but his touch forced him to touch wide and he couldn’t shape a shot from a tight angle. Instead, he looked to cross. Cesar Azpilicueta, one of the five starting Premier League players for Spain, was clear again. Ferran Torres, who scored both goals in the semi-final against Italy, was declared fit at the start despite an ankle problem, and positioned himself wide to the right, where his movement and change of pace have forced back winger Theo Hernandez, winner of France’s game against the Belgians, to focus on defensive tasks.
Gavi, 17, retained his place in midfield, just four days after becoming Spain’s youngest international. Gavi had the chance to escape a yellow card while he was late in a challenge on AurÃ©lien Tchouameni, the Monegasque midfielder called up to replace Adrien Rabiot, who was ruled out by a positive Covid-19 test on the eve of the match.
Premier League referee Anthony Taylor dropped the tackle and set the bar for a physical first half.
France continued with their three-center-back system although Raphael Varane was forced to leave in the first half due to an injury which is sure to alarm Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Varane grimaced as he extended his stride and cut a low cross from Gavi at the expense of a corner kick five minutes before the break.
It seemed innocuous, but the United center-half immediately walked to the bench and quickly found himself on the ground asking for treatment.
Deschamps summoned Dayot Upamecano to replace him.
The first half was tight as the strong star of the French XI was stifled by the possession of Spain in 45 minutes.
Mikel Oyarzabal surprised France by opening the scoring, scoring moments after Antoine Griezmann hit the crossbar
The Real Sociedad forward hung on to one of Sergio Busquets’ soft passes and stuck through Hugo Lloris in the corner
Bayern Munich defender Upamecano inserted himself into Varane’s position in the middle of the three full-backs, a reminder if needed of the depth of quality available to the French coach.
Antoine Griezmann won his 100th selection, a milestone lifting him into an elite group of footballers. Perhaps even more remarkable is that he has now appeared in the last 57 games for his country.
Deschamps, who is just ahead of him with 103 selections, values ââhis intelligence and his ability to read the game.
In the first half he spent most of his time retracing and helping to break Spain’s passing patterns, but the World Cup holders were more expansive in the second half.
They picked up the pace on the possession turnover and swept with more intent.
Moments after Oyarzabal’s attack in France, and Benzema rolled a sublime striker into the skylight in front of Simon
Real Madrid hitman continues to be a reliable source of goals for France since returning from Didier Deschamps exile
Mbappe finished it, showing the PSG superstar can change any game in the blink of an eye if he sees the goal
Marcos Alonso had to make a great sliding tackle to stop Mbappe as he made his way to the penalty area. But France has lost some of their control and their cool. Pogba was given a yellow card as he was a little late in a tackle with Sergio Busquets who, as always, made the most of it.
Pogba was fuming, probably thinking of the tackles that went unpunished in the first half. He challenged Rodri’s special attention moments later before embarking on a risky 50-50 challenge.
There was a strong inspiration of 35,000 inside the San Siro but, luckily for Pogba, he came out with the ball.
These hot spots seemed to inspire the increasingly influential Pogba. His power took him away from Gavi in ââmidfield to kick off a move that ended with Hernandez pulling against the bar.
With talents like 17-year-old Gavi at his disposal, Luis Enrique’s setup looks growing stronger as the World Cup approaches.
Spain took the lead in the 64th minute, however, when Busquets freed Oyarzabal, who was played by Jules Kounde and withstood a challenge from Upamecano before hitting Hugo Lloris at an angle.
France first conceded in seven of their last eight games, but always found a way to strike back and they did so again to equalize in two minutes.
Once again, Pogba started the movement and when the ball hit Benzema on the left, he threw it on his right foot and wrapped it in the top corner. Goalkeeper Simon hit him with his fingertips but couldn’t push him away.
When Mbappe struck, Spain was finally sunk.
Relive the live coverage of Spain 1-2 France by Sportsmail, presented by TOBY MILES