Match report: France 2-1 Denmark
Kylian Mbappe got the goals at Stadium 974 as the reigning champions booked their place in the knockout stages with a game to spare. Jonathan Liew reports from Doha.
What now for Denmark? Sitting third in the group with one point, Denmark have to beat Australia in their final group game or they’re out of the tournament. While far from a foregone conclusion, even that might not be enough because if Tunisia do a number on France, it could come down to goal difference between themselves and Denmark or Australia as to who goes through in second place.
Full time: France 2-1 Denmark
Peep! Peep! Peeeeeeeeeeeeep! It’s all over at Stadium 974, where France have booked their place in the knockout stages. They win by the odd goal of three, with Kylian Mbnappe scoring both their goals either side of what turned out to be a consolation from Andreas Christensen.
90+7 min: Denmark throw-in, deep in France territory. The ball’s sent into the penalty area, France half-clear and Maehle sends a hopeful effort from distance high into the tsand behind the goal.
90+6 min: The sound of lots of potentially hubristic “Allez!” can be heard from the stands as the French fans celebrate each pass of the ball made by their players as they try to run down the clock.
90+5 min: France break upfield, with Marcus Thuram on the ball trying to hold it up.
90+4 min: Denmark ping the ball around the outskirts of the France penalty area, trying to find an opening. They’re not having much luck.
90+3 min: France substituion in the third of six minutes of added time. Wesley Fofana on for Antoine Griezmann, who’s had a terrific game.
90 min: As things stand, France are on their way into the knockout stages, while nothing less than a win over Australia in their final group game will prevent Denmark from going out of the tournament. A draw will do the Aussies … I think.
GOAL! France 2-1 Denmark (Mbappe 86)
France restore their lead. Sound the “THAT MAN AGAIN” klaxon! Kylian Mbappe bundles the ball home with his thigh, stealing in behind Kristensen to convert a curled Griezmann cross. He’s scored from all of six inches out there but his movement as soon as he saw Griezman get the ball was terrific.
84 min: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg pulls a fairly shot well wide of the upright from distance. Denmark substitution: Christian Norgaard on for Jesper Lindstrom.
81 min: Martin Braithwaite darts in front of Jules Kounde with a near post run to get on the end of a cross but is unable to flick the ball the desired side of the upright. It scrapes paint on it’s way wide.
79 min: Adrien Rabiot channels his inner Richarlison, launches himsaelf acrobatically and tries a scissors-kick on a ball floating across from the right. He makes excellent contact with the ball but sends it just over the bar. Great effort.
77 min: Rabiot finds himself in space down by the byline but is unable to pick out anyone with his low cross. Corner for France, which Antoine Griezmann will take. The ball sails in, Andersen loses the flight of it and Tchouameni dives the head the ball into the gaping left-hand side of the goal. By complete fluke, his header hits the back of a completely unwitting Joachim Maehle and is deflected wide. “How’s your luck?” exclaims Ally McCoist on ITV co-comms.
76 min: France double-substitution: Ibrahim Konate and Kingsley Coman on for Raphael Varane and Ousmane Dembele.
73 min: Eriksen takes a corner which is only half-cleared. Moments later, he pops up in front of the French penalty area with the ball at his feet and tries his luck with a shot, which is blocked. Denmark substitution: Kasper Dolberg on for Mikkel Damsgaard.
72 min: Lloris gets down to save impressively from Jesper Lindstrom and France hack the ball clear.
71 min: Mbappe tries to pick out Thuram with a curled cross to the far post but succeeds only in sending the ball into the arms of Schmeichel.
69 min: Denmark might have caught France napping on that occasion. They’d played three successive corners long but opted to send that one to the near post. Andersen flicked it into the congested penalty area, where Christensen attacked it with relish.
GOAL! France 1-1 Denmark (Christensen 68)
Denmark draw level! Andreas Christensen scores with a powerful header at a corner after Joachim Andersen gets a flick on Eriksen’s delivery to the near post.
64 min: France substitutiuon: Marcus Thuram on for Olivier Giroud.
63 min: That was a splendid goal scored at Roadrunner speed. Mabppe picked up the ball and galloped down the inside left and played it outside to Hernandez on the overlap. Without looking, he pulled the ball back inside from the byline and Mbappe finished with a low diagonal effort from close range that took a nick on its way in.
GOAL! France 1-0 Denmark (Mbappe 61)
France lead! Theo Hernandez and Kylian Mbappe link up and it’s the latter who scores by converting a pull-back from the former, the ball taking a little deflection off Andreas Christensen on it’s way past Schmeichel.
59 min: Antoine Griezmann runs on to a dink over the top, getting the better of Victor Nelsson to put himself through on goal. His shot is atrocious and he fires high over the bar.
57 min: Mbappe outmuscles Joachim Andersen, surges forwards down the inside-left and unleashes a shot, despite the best attempts of Olivier Giroud to – presumably accidentally, but they’re French so anything is possible – impede his run by running across his racing line. Kasper Schmeichel palms it over the bar and nothing comes of the subsequent corner.
54 min: Braithwaite wins a corner off Theo Hernandez. Cristian Eriksen pings the ball towards the far post, where it’s headed clear. The ball’s immediately sent back into the mixer but the flag goes up for offside.
52 min: Denmark win a corner which is played long towards the back post. Rasmus Kristensen tries to head the ball back across the face of goal but Hugo Lloris claims it authoritatively.
50 min: Mbappe plays the ball inside from the left towqards Dembele. Hit with force, the ball clanks off the winger’s shin and bounces up in the air and appearing out of nowhere, Mbappe tries to poke it past Schmeichel. He hasn’t enough room in which to manouvre and the goalkeeper is untroubled.
48 min: Christian Eriksen curls a wonderful ball across the edge of the France six-yard box but Martin Braithwaite is unable to get near it.
47 min: Andreas Christensen clears the ball with an agricultural hoof towards the touchline as Mbappe and Rabiot try to link up in a crowded Danish penalty area. Get it launched, Andreas! Get it launched!
Second half: France 0-0 Denmark
46 min: Play resumes and Denmark have made a change. Martin Braithwaite is on in place of Andreas Cornelius.
Some first half analysis: “Denmark are wearing precisely the same colours as Poland were in the previous game,” writes Ben Kybett. “This is rather unhelpful to those of us, in a twilight winter footballing fug, who are struggling to keep up with what day it is, let alone what teams we are now supposed to be watching. Surely in these days of third kits, alternate third kits and fourth kits, something must be done.”
Half-time: France 0-0 Denmark
Peep! It’s all square at the break where the deadlock remains unbroken thus far.
45+2 min: We’re in the second of three minutes of added time at the end of a very entertaining first half. France have dominated but have yet to score, although Olivier Giroud will feel he should have taken at least one of a few decent chances that came his way. Currently joint holder of the record with Thierry Henry with 51, he’s one goal shy of becoming France’s all time leading scorer.
45 min: The French fans in the ground strike up a stirring rendition of La Marseillaise. Is there any other kind of rendition when it comes to that particular anthem?
45 min: Nelsson receives treatment but is passed fit to continue for now.
42 min: Jules Kounde gets booked for catching Victor Nelsson on the ankle as the Frenchman lunged in to re-win a ball he’d just lost control of. It’s a nasty challenge. Kounde trod on the Danish defender’s ankle with considerable force.
39 min: Dembele picks out Olivier Giroud in acres of space around the penalty spot with a pull-back from the byline. With the goal at his mercy and only Schmeichel to beat, Giroud blasts the ball high over the bar.
37 min: Olivier Giroud outjumps Victor Nelsson to attack a cushioned volley of a cross from Mbappe with his head. He clatters into the defender in mid-air and sends his effort wide. Kasper Schmeichel moans to the referee, claiming that Nelsson was fouled by the big French striker. I’m not sure he’s right – Giroud just “wanted it more”, as they say and attacked the ball far more aggressively.
35 min: Jesper Lindstrom plays Cornelius in behind with a nicely weighted ball. The Danish striker times his run perfectly, takes a few steps and unleashes a shot. Wide, but not by much.
32 min: Griezmann links up with Giroud down the inside left, runs to the byline and, with no teammate in the penalty area to aim for, unleashes a shot from a very tight angle. Schmeichel blocks with his feet. The ball breaks to Dembele, who tees up Tchouameni, whose shot is blocked.
30 min: Mbappe lofts a cross from the left side of the Danish penalty area to the right. Jules Kounde controls the ball and unleashes a low diagonal which is blocked by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and rolls to the feet of Schmeichel.
29 min: Dayot Upamecano busts a gut to prevent the ball from going out for a corner, slides and manages to send it out for a throw-in instead. He gets a big cheer from those in the crowd of a Gallic bent.
27 min: Jesper Lindstrom tries to send a cross into the France penalty area from the right touchline but succeeds only in winning a throw-in off Theo Hernandez.
25 min: Joachim Anderson plays a long ball from deep towards the byline for Mikkel Damsgaard to chase. The Danish winger gets to the ball in time to keep it in but his first touch is poor and sends it out of play for a goal kick.
24 min: Another booking. This time the card is shown to Andreas Cornelius, who “left one in” on Olivier Giroud.
21 min: Kasper Schmeichel saves well, palming away a goalbound Adrien Rabiot header.
20 min: Andreas Christensen is booked for hauling Mbappe to the ground as the French striker sprinted out of his own half, turned on his afterburners and threatened to burst through a gap betwen two defenders. Should it have been a red? Probably not – the two defenders level with Mbappe were theoretically “covering” although one suspects they’d have beemn left trailing in the French striker’s wake a milli-second later.
18 min: Theo Hernandez cuts in from the left, advances through the centre and tries to play a through ball towards where he expected Giroud to make a darting run. Unfortunately for him, old Ollie wasn’t on the same wavelength.
16 min: France continue to keep the Danes pinned inside their own half, ramping up the pressure.
14 min: France are very much in the ascendency at this point in the game. Ousmane Dembele arrows a cross from the right wing to the far post, where Joachim Anderson leaps in front of Olivier Giroud and puts the French striker off.
12 min: From the corner, the ball’s swung into the mixer, where Raphael Varane steers a downward header goalwards. With Kasper Schmeichel well and truly beaten, Joachim Maehle displays ninja-like reflexes to stick out a boot and prevent it crossing the line.
11 min: France free-kick, wide on the left. Antoine Griezmann curls the ball into the Denmark penalty area, where Andreas Cornelius puts it out for a corner with a good defensive header.
7 min: Playing a neat one-two with Mbappe, Theo Hernandez curls a cross into the Danish penalty area. Rabiot knocks it down into the centre from the far post, prompting Olivier Giroud to pull the trigger. Before he can leather the ball goalwards from six or seven yards, Andreas Christensen swipes it off his toe. Good defending.
6 min: Ousmane Dembele wins the ball inside his own penalty area, gallops up the right flank and beats two men as he does so. He runs three-quarters of the length of the pitch before playing it wide to Adrien Rabiot out on the left. He links up with Mbappe before the ball is played back inside to Dembele. His shot is blocked.
5 min: Denmark are hogging the ball early doors, trying to play it wide at every opportunity.
2 min: Kasper Schmeichel gets an early touch, receiving a back pass from a long way out. He plays the ball forward to Victor Nelsson, who is in for Simon Kjaer. Those are big boots to fill for the Glatasaray defender who is only winning his eighth international cap.
1 min: As expected in the absence of Thomas Delaney, Christian Eriksen lines up in a slightly deeper role than he did in the game against Tunisia.
France v Denmark is go ...
1 min: Denmark get the ball rolling, their players wearing white shirts, red shorts and white socks. The players of France wear blue shirts, white shorts and red socks.
Not long now: The teams are out on the pitch, led by referee Szymon Marciniak and his team of match officials. It’s time for the national anthems …
Bottoms up: “We are ready to go here in our Copenhagen bar,” writes Kim Thonger. “Determined to support our Danish cousins, my wife armed with a glass of Gløgg, I with a fearsome 9% bottle of Icelandic beer going by the name of Gluggagægir. The French have it all to do against that sort of weaponry.”
More correspondence: “I feel a bit sad for Pavard, being dropped already,” writes Kári Tulinius. “When he came through at Stuttgart, he seemed like he was destined to be one of the all time great defenders, but his move to Bayern hasn’t worked out for him. On the other hand, he scored one of the all time World Cup goals in one of the all time World Cup matches, so I suppose he doesn’t need much pity from me or anyone.”
Yes, that’ll be that volley against Argentina from outside the penalty area in the 2018 World Cup Round of 16 that I can’t post up here because the Fifa curtain-twitchers have ensured it can’t be seen. You can find it on YouTube if you can’t remember it, although if you’ve seen it before, you’re unlikely to have forgotten it.
An email: “In my day of village football in the 50s and 60s all you needed was a referee,” yells David Mitchell at a passing cloud. “Home and away sides provided their own linesman. Today that would probably mean a riot at every game but I don’t remember any real problems due to bias and never saw an official attacked.”
That’s all well and good, David, but surely your village kickabouts would have been enhanced by the presence of a Standby Assistant Video Assisitant Video Referee.
Those teams: As expected, Raphael Varane starts at centre back for France after fully recovering from a hamstring injury. The M anchester United defender is the heart of the French defence alongside Dayot Upamecano, while Jules Kounde replaces Benjamin Pavard at right-back. Aurelien Tchouameni and Adrien Rabiot start in midfield with Antoine Griezmann set to work in support of the offensive trio of Ousmane Dembele, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud.
Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand makes four changes to the side that drew with Tunisia. Simon Kjaer drops to the bench, making way for Victor Nelsson, while Jesper Lindstrom is in for Andreas Skov Olsen. Mikkel Damsgaard comes into midfield in place of the injured Thomas Delaney, while Andreas Cornelius is rewarded for his astonishing miss against the North African side with a starting berth. Kasper Dolberg drops to the bench.
France v Denmark line-ups
France: Hugo Lloris, Jules Kounde, Raphael Varane, Dayot Upamecano, Theo Hernandez, Adrien Rabiot, Aurelien Tchouameni, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe
Denmark: Kasper Schmeichel, Joachim Andersen, Victor Nelsson, Andreas Christensen, Rasmus Kristensen, Pierre Hojbjerg, Christian Eriksen, Joakim Maehle, Jesper Lindstrom, Andreas Cornelius, Mikkel Damsgaard
Kasper Hjulmand: “Tomorrow’s game is obviously an important one for us after the start we had,” said Denmark’s manager during yesterday’s press conference. “It’s an opponent who belongs at the very, very top of football. The quality and talent they have in France at the moment is spectacular. I have great respect for them but we also know how strong we are. We know if we play our very best we know we have a chance of getting a good result against France.
On his side’s Nations League wins over France. “Obviously this is a new tournament, a bigger tournament,” he said. “But we know that if we play our very best, we have a chance of getting a good result and that’s what we’re aiming for. To be able to do that, we have to take a big step forward in the quality from the first match.”
Didier Deschamps: The France manager hopes his side have learnt lessons from their surprise Nations League defeats at home and away to Denmark ahead of today’s game.
“They are underestimated as a team,” he said. “We are talking about a four-month period where they beat us twice and made life very difficult for us. We will have to make sure that’s not the case [this weekend]. It is not a question of revenge because we know the Danish players and they know us. They can change system from one match to the other and that can give us different types of difficulties.”
Today's match officials
God be with the days when one ref and Just a couple of linesmen were all you needed to stage a football match. Eh? Now get a load of this …
Referee: Szymon Marciniak
Assistant Referees: Paweł Sokolnicki and Tomasz Listkiewicz
Fourth Official: Ma Ning
Reserve Assistant Referee: Cao Yi
Video Assistant Referee: Tomasz Kwiatkowski
Assistant Video Assistant Referee: Juan Martínez Munuera
Offside Video Assistant Referee: Taleb Al-Marri
Support Video Assistant Referee: Alejandro Hernández Hernández
Standby Assistant Video Assistant Referee: Mohammed Al-Hammadi
Early team news
France are without Lucas Hernandez, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the build-up to Australia’s goal on Tuesday. The Bayern Munich defender was replaced by his brother Theo and his since undergone successful surgery on the first step of his long road back to full fitness. Hernandez’s Bayern teammate Kingsley Coman is also in doubt for today’s game, having missed training yesterday with a hip injury. Raphael Varane is expected to start for France in place of Ibrahim Konate, despite not having played since late October. Jules Kounde could start at right-back instead of Benjamin Pavard.
Thomas Delaney has also had to withdraw from the tournament, having suffered a knee injury in Denmark’s scoreless draw against Tunisia. The Sevilla midfielder is expected to be sidelined for at least a month. His absence may prompt Denmark manager into a reshuffle that could see Christian Eriksen sitting a little deeper to facilitate the selection of Jesper Lindstrom or Mikkel Damsgaard further up the pitch.
Group D: France v Denmark
Following their fairly straightforward victory over Australia, a win for France will guarantee their progression to the knockout rounds and will leave Denmark in a must-win situation ahead of their final group game against the Socceroos. Graham Arnold’s team beat Tunisia at the Al Janoub Stadium earlier today to keep their hopes of making the knockout stages very much alive. France and Australia currently occupy the top two places in Group D with three points each, while Denmark and Tunisia have just one apiece.
While France are the hot favourites to win at Stadium 974 today, they go into this game extremely mindful of the fact the Danes have beaten them at home and away in the Nations League in the past six months and are therefore not to be underestimated. Kick-off in Doha is at 4pm (GMT) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.