France 2-0 Austria: Player ratings as Les Bleus end Nations League rut
By Sean Walsh
France moved off the foot of their Nations League group after an impressive 2-0 win against Austria in Saint-Denis on Thursday.
Les Bleus were dominant from start to finish at the Stade de France and moved a point clear of their visitors, who would have relegated the world champions to League B with a win.
Kylian Mbappe had the ball in the net after 90 seconds, but his strike was ruled out as he was standing offside when Youssouf Fofana took his initial shot.
Didier Deschamps' men continued their fast and aggressive start with Aurelien Tchouameni's deflected strike just about whistling over the crossbar.
After some wonderful link-up play with Olivier Giroud, it looked for all the world that Mbappe would break the deadlock from close range, but the PSG forward couldn't get a clean contact on the ball when trying to chip Patrick Pentz and Austria were let off the hook.
Antoine Griezmann and Mbappe once more went close over the next few minutes but again Ralf Rangnick's men just about survived.
Austria's charmed life continued when Tchouameni's overhead kick rattled the crossbar, and Pentz somehow saved the rebound from Griezmann.
A teasing cross from Jonathan Clauss was turned just over by the lively Giroud before Mbappe rounded Pentz only for Fofana to fluff the following cutback as France somehow went into the half-time break without a goal to show for their efforts.
After the interval, Mbappe released Griezmann and while he couldn't keep the ball under control, it fell kindly for Clauss to strike, but his shot sailed behind for a goal kick.
France finally took a deserved lead after 55 minutes when Giroud picked up a loose ball from Marcel Sabitzer in midfield and sent Mbappe racing away, shrugging off the challenges of several Austria defenders and firing into the roof of Pentz's net.
The French onslaught continued as Clauss' teasing cross into the six yard box was met by an outstretched Tchouameni, but the Real Madrid midfielder couldn't keep his strike on target.
Giroud was denied a penalty when he was brought down by David Alaba, with the referee waving play on and insisting the challenge was clean.
But the Milan striker wasn't to be denied much longer as he doubled France's lead, rising high to meet a delicious Griezmann cross.
Substitute Ousmane Dembele teed up Mbappe in stoppage time to add a third, but his strike was closer to finding the corner flag than the back of the net .
France vs Austria player ratings, Nations League
1. France (3-5-2)
GK: Mike Maignan - 5/10 - Had absolutely nothing to do in his one half of football.
CB: Jules Kounde - 5/10 - Picked up an injury early on and had to be substituted.
CB: Raphael Varane - 7/10 - Didn't have much to do but led well on a rare outing as captain.
CB: Benoit Badiashile - 7/10 - A supreme debut for Les Bleus, sweeping up well and roaming forward with intent.
RM: Jonathan Clauss - 7/10 - Played very high up as a winger essentially. Had a great connection with Griezmann.
CM: Aurelien Tchouameni - 6/10 - Kept play ticking but wasn't spectacular.
CM: Youssouf Fofana - 7/10 - Looked like he belonged in a France midfield that has lots of strength in depth.
LM: Ferland Mendy - 5/10 - His delivery wasn't always spot on and his flaws were glaring in contrast to Clauss.
AM: Antoine Griezmann - 8/10 - Rolled back the years with a great performance linking midfield and attack.
CF: Kylian Mbappe - 9/10 - Austria's only hopes of stopping Mbappe were for Pentz to somehow deny all of his shots. It didn't work.
CF: Olivier Giroud - 9/10 - Continued his great start to the season. Worked in tandem with Mbappe and Griezmann, proving again why Deschamps depends on him. Now just two goals away from tying Thierry Henry's France record.
SUB: William Saliba (23' for Kounde) - 6/10 - Wasn't particularly busy after coming on midway through the first half.
SUB: Alphonse Areola (46' for Maignan) - 5/10 - Like Maignan, it was a quiet night for Areola between the sticks.
SUB: Ousmane Dembele (78' for Griezmann) - N/A
SUB: Christopher Nkunku (78' for Giroud) - N/A
SUB: Randal Kolo Muani (90' for Mbappe) - N/A
Manager: Didier Deschamps - 8/10 - France tore Austria apart and Deschamps' old guard played a huge role in ensuring that.
2. Austria (4-4-2)
GK: Patrick Pentz (7); RB: Christopher Trimmel (6), CB: Philipp Lienhart (5), CB: David Alaba (6), LB: Maximilian Wober (5); RM: Marcel Sabitzer (3), CM: Nicolas Seiwald (4), CM: Xaver Schlager (6), LM: Andreas Weimann (5); CF: Marko Arnautovic (3), CF: Karim Onisiwo (4)
SUBS: Dejan Ljubicic (4), Christoph Baumgartner (5), Romano Schmid (5), Stefan Posch (5)
Manager: Ralf Rangnick (4)