France 3-0 Wales: Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele score hosts after controversial red card from Williams
France 3-0 Wales: Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele all just ahead of hosts – but Karim Benzema MISSES a penalty in his first cap in six years after Neco Williams’ controversial red card
- VAR control ruled that his handball was a goal-bound attempt by Benzema. had hindered
- The French striker had his penalty saved by Ward . on his international return
- Mbappé scored the first from a rebound after Rabiot’s deflected shot was saved
- Striker Griezmann curled in a beautiful second goal early in the second half
- Substitute Dembélé scored France’s third goal after Benzema hit the post
- Read the latest Euro 2020 news, including fixtures, live action and results here.
There was hope for a side from Wales whose formidable task against the world champions reached the realms of the impossible after Nico Williams’ unfathomable dismissal from Liverpool.
Danny Ward’s goalkeeping performance was a huge statement of intent for him as he battles to beat Wayne Hennessey for the opening match of the European Championship against Switzerland in Baku on Saturday week.
The Leicester keeper clawed out a header from Paul Pogba with a save of the highest quality and within minutes had fended off a penalty from Karim Benzema, jumping low with a strong right hand.
Neco Williams’ early red card meant Wales had to toil for over an hour with 10 men
French striker Karim Benzema had his penalty saved by Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward
France: Lloris, Pavard (Kounde 46), Varane, Kimpembe, Lucas (Digne 46), Pogba (Coman 63), Tolisso (Sissoko 64), Rabiot, Griezmann (Ben Yedder 84), Benzema, Mbappe-Lottin (Dembele 73).
Subs not used: Mandanda, Maignan, Dubois, Lenglet, Thuram.
goals: Mbappe-Lottin 35, Griezmann 48, Dembele 79.
Wales: Ward, Gunter, Rodon, Mepham (Ben Davies 59), Connor Roberts, Wilson (Ramsey 59), Allen (Levitt 59), Neco Williams, Morrell (Colwill 83), James (Brooks 73), Bale (Moore 58).
Subs not used: Hennessey, Adam Davies, Cabango, Norrington-Davies, Tyler Roberts, Jonathan Williams.
Sent: Neco Williams (26).
Reference: Luis Godinho (Portugal).
The increased defensive rigor that Page has brought to the side since the Ryan Giggs takeover has also been evident in a rearguard who, despite falling behind, largely faced a ruthless French squad.
Before the red card, there was also the sight of Daniel James and Gareth Bale setting the pace on opposite flanks, which could pose a threat in Azerbaijan, where Wales also face Turkey in their difficult group. But Portuguese referee Luis Godinho’s decision to sack Williams – which Page is considering appealing – turned it into a survival mission.
A penalty awarded against Williams had some justification. The 20-year-old’s arms were out in front of him as Benzema followed a shot from close range after Ward kept Pogba’s header away.
But to fire the player for what was thus considered a deliberate attempt to keep the ball away was wrong. Even the French players urged Godinho not to fire Williams, who had hitherto been effective in drafting Pogba into an unusual left midfield role.
“It also ruined the game for them because they wanted a competitive game,” Page thought last night. “The fourth official apologized shortly after the break and said, ‘Sorry coach.’
Ward, who has played for Wales more than Leicester this season, appeared to have repelled France again when he got his left foot on a shot from Antoine Griezmann.
Kylian Mbappe scored in the rebound after Adrien Rabiot’s deflected shot was saved by Ward
Attacker Antoine Griezmann curled in a beautiful second goal early in the second half
But Kylian Mbappe reacted more sharply than Chris Mepham to send his squad forward.
The night gave an indication of why England urgently needed to avoid France in the round of 16. Benzema’s recall after six years in the international wilderness paid off. France’s exchange of the ball was swift, precise and imaginative, with a second goal being artistry.
Mbappe rolled a ball Pogba had played under his heels to Griezmann, who curled past Ward. Joe Rondon offered too much space. Substitute Moussa Dembele scored the third and jumped up after Benzema’s shot bounced off the post.
“To counter the goals we scored, we look back on that,” Page said. “But the positive thing for us is the minutes players have on the field.” Joe Allen, who hadn’t played a game for club or country since March, completed an hour. Aaron Ramsey, who will need the best of Wales, almost put James on the cusp of scoring. Defeats don’t usually build confidence, but they should.
Substitute Ousmane Dembele scored France’s third goal after Benzema hit the post