Karim Benzema's brilliance not enough as Denmark stun France in Nations League

The Netherlands crush Belgium 4-1 after early injury to Romelu Lukaku

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Denmark recovered brilliantly after a fine Karim Benzema goal to beat France 2-1 in the Uefa Nations League on Friday at the Stade de France, the first match at the venue since the chaotic Champions League final.

Benzema scored the opener with a stunning effort, cutting in from the right wing before dummying his way past three defenders to find the back of the net.

Trabzonspor striker Andreas Cornelius cancelled out Benzema's second-half strike with a neat 68th-minute finish and lashed in the winner with two minutes to go.

That meant it was a disappointing night for France who saw both Kylian Mbappe and Raphael Varane come off injured.

"We have players who have played a lot of games this season and we clearly lacked freshness," said France assistant coach Guy Stephan, who added that Mbappe was struggling with a knee knock and Varane had a hamstring problem.

There was a near-full house of 75,833 inside the Stade de France, including 1,400 Danish supporters, but the atmosphere outside the ground ahead of kick-off was calm.

That was in stark contrast to the scenes six days earlier, when serious organisational problems led to fans being unable to get into the stadium while many peaceful supporters were tear-gassed ahead of Real Madrid's 1-0 win over Liverpool.

Netherlands' Memphis Depay scored twice against Belgium. AFP

Meanwhile, the Netherlands registered their first success over Belgium in 25 years as Memphis Depay scored a double in a 4-1 victory in Brussels on Friday.

Steven Bergwijn and Denzel Dumfries netted the other two goals as the Dutch ended Belgium’s almost six-year unbeaten home record.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said defeat was “just what the team needed". It was the first home defeat for the Belgians since Martinez’ first game in charge, in September 2016 against Spain.

“This is what we needed to prepare for the World Cup. It's a hard result but it's clear what we need to work on,” Martinez said.

“The World Cup does not start until November but with the national team we only have 17 days to get ready. It is clear what we need to work on, we started well and found spaces. After that it became physically difficult for players.”

Martinez bemoaned the early injury to Romelu Lukaku who had been hurt in a training ground collision earlier in the week.

“Lukaku's departure was a knock to the team. From then on it became a more difficult match,” he said.

Defender Jan Vertonghen also said Lukaku’s exit was a setback his team could not recover from.

“A very painful defeat. We lacked momentum after Romelu's injury. The Dutch have had just as tough a season as we have, so that shouldn't be an excuse,” he said.

Updated: June 04, 2022, 4:24 AM
EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS
MORE FROM THE NATIONAL