• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

FOOTBALL

Euro: Narrow win for France; shock victories for Slovakia and Romania

France secured their 100th victory under manager Didier Deschamps with a 1-0 win over Austria in their opening Group D match at Euro 2024.

France defeated Austria, Slovakia shocked Belgium 1-0, and Romania triumphed 3-0 over Ukraine at Euro 2024 on Monday. (Photos: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

France secured a narrow win over Austria despite losing Kylian Mbappe to a broken nose, Slovakia stunned Belgium with a 1-0 victory, and Romania triumphed over Ukraine in a 3-0 match at Euro 2024 on Monday.

France secured their 100th victory under manager Didier Deschamps with a 1-0 win over Austria in their opening Group D match at Euro 2024, but it came at a cost as Kylian Mbappe broke his nose.

An own goal by Austria defender Max Wober shortly before halftime secured the points, putting France level with the Netherlands, their next opponents on Friday.

Three years after their Euro 2020 exit to Switzerland, France showed signs of promise, particularly with the return of midfielder N’Golo Kante.

However, it was a mixed night for captain Mbappe, who missed several clear chances and was substituted late with blood oozing from his nose following an aerial clash.

He left the stadium in an ambulance for X-rays, and the French Football Federation confirmed his broken nose.

Deschamps said, “He’s got a really bad nose. We’ll have to wait and see. It’s very bad news for us tonight.”

Mbappe’s contributions included a decisive dribble past three defenders to set up the cross that led to Wober’s own goal.

Despite this, Mbappe missed a golden opportunity in the 54th minute, responding with a wry smile after guiding his shot wide.

Late in the match, he collided with Kevin Danso and required treatment before being substituted.

Austria coach Ralf Rangnick had promised a strong performance from his side, who pressed high and tackled relentlessly.

“All in all the French earned the win, but that we were chasing the equaliser throughout speaks for the performance of our team,” Rangnick said.

Austria’s best chance came when Christoph Baumgartner’s shot was deflected wide by French keeper Mike Maignan.

In Group E, Slovakia delivered the first upset of the tournament with a 1-0 victory over Belgium.

Ivan Schranz scored Slovakia’s quickest goal at a major tournament, timing at six minutes and five seconds.

Belgium, under coach Domenico Tedesco, suffered their first loss in 16 games.

Romelu Lukaku had two goals disallowed and missed several clear-cut chances.

Belgium captain Kevin de Bruyne commented, “We deserved to win but did not score and that is the way it is.”

Slovakia’s disciplined defence, led by goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, held firm despite Belgium’s dominance.

Dubravka highlighted their resilience: “We worked hard and fought until the end. You need to be a little bit lucky in games like this and we were.”

Slovakia joined Romania at the top of the standings after their 3-0 win over Ukraine earlier on Monday.

Romania’s victory was marked by standout performances from Dennis Man, who was involved in all three goals.

Man capitalised on a poor clearance from Ukraine goalkeeper Andrey Lunin to set up Nicolae Stanciu for the opener.

Early in the second half, Man drove at the Ukrainian defence, leading to Razvan Marin’s goal. For the third goal, Man showcased his skill by setting up Denis Dragus with a quick short pass.

Romania’s solid defence, led by Radu Dragusin and Andrei Burca, thwarted Ukraine’s attempts, including efforts by Mykhailo Mudryk and Artem Dovbyk.

Romania manager Edward Iordanescu praised his team’s spirit and effort, saying they “fulfilled that pledge” to fight for every metre on the pitch.

These results highlight the unpredictable nature of Euro 2024, with strong performances and unexpected outcomes marking the early stages of the tournament.

(Reuters)

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