France’s stuttering Nations League campaign continued with a 1-1 draw at Austria.
Ralf Rangnick’s side hassled and harried the world champions from the off at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion and were good value for their point, ensuring Les Bleus remain winless this month.
Minor Austria appeals for an early penalty were waved away when Theo Hernandez wrestled Konrad Laimer to the ground, with referee Anastasios Sidiropoulos completely uninterested.
France somehow didn’t break the deadlock after Antoine Griezmann’s free-kick was parried away by goalkeeper Patrick Pentz, and the Austria Wien stopper threw up an instinctive hand to deny Karim Benzema’s rebound.
A late recovery challenge from Benjamin Pavard prevented Andreas Weimann from having a clear sight of goal after Laimer’s cross carved the French defence apart, before Stefan Lainer’s header from the following corner was held by Hugo Lloris.
Pentz was level to Benzema’s 20-yard strike after France won the ball back high up the pitch, but the world champions fell behind shortly before the break when Weimann tapped in from a low Laimer cross, with the Bristol City man peeling away from William Saliba at the far post to notch the hosts in front.
Marko Arnautovic came close to doubling Austria’s lead soon after with a neat swivel and strike but Lloris denied him, while Benzema had another shot from range kept out by Pentz.
After the interval, France ramped up the pressure but their best chances came from distance, with Pavard next to force Pentz into a flying save and Kingsley Coman firing over.
Didier Deschamps threw Kylian Mbappe on to try and find a way back into the tie, though Austria retreated and denied France space to run into.
But one sprint in behind was all Mbappe needed and he levelled the scores with under ten minutes remaining, racing onto Christopher Nkunku’s through ball to equalise.
Mbappe nearly stole all three points after some neat work on the edge of the Austria box, but Pentz got a slight touch as the PSG forward’s shot cannoned off the crossbar.
Pentz again came to Austria’s rescue when he saved Matteo Guendouz’s goal-bound corner in stoppage time as France remain rooted to the bottom of Group A1.
GK: Patrick Pentz – 8/10 – Didn’t look too assured of himself but still made plenty of key saves.
RB: Stefan Lainer – 4/10 – Booked early on for a late foul on Coman. Tried hard but his application was iffy.
CB: Gernot Trauner – 6/10 – A rock defensively but was caught dawdling in possession once or twice.
CB: David Alaba – 8/10 – Was superb at bringing the ball out from the back. Brought off with an injury.
LB: Maximilian Wober – 6/10 – Largely nullified the threat of Diaby.
RM: Konrad Laimer – 7/10 – Had his fingerprints all over the game, creating overloads when coming inside and causing havoc from the wing.
CM: Xaver Schlager – 8/10 – Sprayed passes so effortlessly across the pitch and over the France defence.
CM: Nicolas Seiwald – 6/10 – Also cautioned for a foul early on. Battled hard but wasn’t as effective as his midfield partner.
LM: Marcel Sabitzer – 5/10 – Sometimes acted as a third forward alongside Weimann and Arnautovic, which he often needed to do to escape Pavard.
CF: Andreas Weimann – 8/10 – Worked ever so hard for his side and was rewarded with an easy goal.
CF: Marko Arnautovic – 7/10 – Honoured before kick-off after reaching 100 games for his country. Dropped deep to link play excellently.
SUB: Valentino Lazaro (55′, RB for Lainer) – 7/10 – Was more effective than Lainer.
SUB: Karim Onisiwo (64′, CF for Arnautovic) – 4/10
SUB: Michael Gregoritsch (64′, CF for Weimann) – 5/10
SUB: Kevin Danso (69′, CB for Alaba) – 5/10
GK: Hugo Lloris – 6/10 – Made some good saves but wasn’t going to get near Weimann’s opener.
RB: Benjamin Pavard – 6/10 – One of France’s better performers but was let down by his fellow defenders.
CB: William Saliba – 2/10 – Lazily lost the run of Weimann for the opener. Constantly dragged out of position by Austria’s experienced forwards.
CB: Ibrahima Konate – 6/10 – Earned his first cap. Great ball between the lines to Mbappe leading to the equaliser.
LB: Theo Hernandez – 3/10 – Caught napping on occasion and didn’t offer much going forward.
CM: Aurelien Tchouameni – 5/10 – Kept things neat and tidy in midfield but was largely shown up by his opposite numbers. Tried to take more responsibility but his passing became sloppy and he was hooked for Guendouzi.
CM: Boubacar Kamara – 6/10 – Fought well and provided decent cover against Austria’s pressing midfielders.
RM: Moussa Diaby – 3/10 – Obviously has quality but he couldn’t piece it together. A frustrating evening.
AM: Antoine Griezmann – 4/10 – Was keen to get involved but left little of a tangible impact.
LM: Kingsley Coman – 3/10 – Like Griezmann saw a lot of the ball but scarcely threatened.
CF: Karim Benzema – 5/10 – Did threaten, but never enough to really trouble Austria.
SUB: Matteo Guendouzi (63′, CM for Tchouameni) – 6/10 – Succeeded where Tchouameni failed in his progressive passing, but couldn’t really open Austria up alone.
SUB: Kylian Mbappe (63′, CF for Griezmann) – 8/10 – Brought the spark that France needed.
SUB: Christopher Nkunku (79, LW for Coman) – 7/10
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