Vienna [Austria], June 11 (ANI): Austria went second in the UEFA Nations League Group A1 but could not hold on for victory as fourth-placed France hit back in the closing stages through Kylian Mbappe to secure their second point of the campaign on Friday through 1-1 draw.
Austria had demonstrated their ability to punish generosity in their 3-0 win in Croatia, and Andreas Weimann pounced when he was afforded space in front of goal, slotting in Konrad Laimer’s incisive 37th-minute cross after Marko Arnautovic’s trickery.
Karim Benzema came closest for France in the first half, repeatedly testing Patrick Pentz, who produced a superb reflex save to paw the Real Madrid top scorer’s header off the line.
France captain Hugo Lloris had warned that his side were under pressure after taking one point from their opening two group games. Kingsley Coman looked certain to ease the holders’ frustration during a gripping second half, only to curl a shot over the crossbar from close range after fashioning space inside the penalty area.
With his side dominating possession but struggling to unpick a determined home defence, Bleus boss Didier Deschamps replaced Antoine Griezmann with Mbappe shortly after the hour mark.
The substitute rewarded the decision with seven minutes remaining, gliding on to Christopher Nkunku’s perceptive pass before racing inside the penalty area and lashing a finish past Pentz at the goalkeeper’s near post.
The holders pushed for a winner, Pentz turning Mbappe’s strike onto the woodwork. Austria held on for a deserved point, moving two behind section leaders Denmark.
Ralf Rangnick, Austria coach after the match said: “Why do we play football? To have fun, of course. But it is more fun to win. We conceded two unnecessary goals against Denmark and France, both after set-pieces we had. I know we played well but there’s no reason to congratulate us when we were so close to three points. France were able to put us under a lot of pressure but, until the equaliser, they did not have that many clear chances. We have to recover quickly now, then we will try to take three points from Denmark.”
While Didier Deschamps, France’s coach opined that three points for his side would have been more than possible. “Three points would have been more than possible. It is a pity. Many of our players are exhausted but this is no excuse. I am glad that Kylian Mbappe was fit for 30 minutes; he is very important for our team.”
Austria have scored in their last ten UEFA Nations League matches. France are unbeaten in their last seven UEFA Nations League matches outside of France, winning five. (ANI)