Defending Champions France Go Down to Croatia; Denmark Beat Austria

France, the defending champion, lost the Nations League title and faced the mortal prospect of relegation after losing at home to Croatia 1-0 on Monday.

Meanwhile, group leaders Denmark beat Austria 2-0 to boost their display in the Final Four.

Denmark has nine points, two ahead of second-placed Croatia with only the group winner. Austria came third with four points, and France bottomed with two points after their fourth match without a win. The team relegated to last place.

Croatia scored a penalty kick in the fifth minute from prominent midfielder Luka Modric at the Stade de France. It’s where he played commandingly for Champions League-winning Real Madrid in the final just over two weeks ago, and he belied his years of progress with a display full of clever passing and clever movement in space.

Croatia fans chanted, “Luka, Luka” for their inspirational captain as he applauded them with their thumbs up after the match.

In Copenhagen, wide strikers Jonas Older Wind and Andreas Skov Olsen scored Denmark’s goals in the first half.

Croatia hosts Denmark in a table top match on September 22nd.

France coach Didier Deschamps finally ruled out first striker Antoine Griezmann, who has not scored for the team since early January, opting instead for Christopher Nkunku in attack alongside Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe.

It was Nkunko’s clever pass that provided Mbappe’s late equalizer in the 1-1 draw in Austria on Friday.

Perhaps to excite the players, the band stopped playing at the beginning of “La Marseillaise” and most of the audience of 77,400 people at the Stade de France sang it in the style of A cappella.

The fans calmed down at home when Croatia won a penalty kick after Ibrahim Konate fouled Josep Pricalo for the penalty kick.

Mike Minan started scoring in the net ahead of long-serving No. 1 Hugo Lloris and guessed the right way but couldn’t stop Modric’s powerful shot from hitting the left corner.

France beat Croatia 4-2 in the 2018 World Cup final but the Croats were better that night against a French team that lacked strength in midfield. Led by 36-year-old Modric, the Croatian midfield expertly cut the supply line for strikers Benzema and Mbappe.

Benzema approached the middle of the second half as France found more space and Griezmann received a standing ovation when he came on in the last 10 minutes.

Benzema’s header in stoppage time was saved by goalkeeper Ivica Ivosic after France’s hopes evaporated.

A young man ran to the square at the final whistle and rushed to Benzema, forcing the security to intervene, but Benzema hugged the boy, took off his shirt and handed it to him.

other games

In League B, Group 2 leaders Israel came back from behind twice to draw with Iceland 2-2.

In League C, Kazakhstan dominated Group C after beating Slovakia 2-1 at home, bringing its tally to 10 points, four points ahead of Slovaks in second place.

Azerbaijan beat Belarus 2-0 at home in the other match.

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