Mbappe saves side’s blushes

The Citizen (KZN) - - SPORT - Guingamp

– Kylian Mbappe (above) in­spired a fight­back from world cham­pi­ons France as they ral­lied from two goals down at home to earn a 2-2 draw with Ice­land on Thurs­day.

Birkir Bjar­na­son swept Ice­land ahead from the edge of the area on 30 min­utes, and Kari Ar­na­son’s ex­cel­lent sec­ond-half header dou­bled their lead.

But Mbappe, brought on as a sub­sti­tute for the fi­nal half-hour, gave France a life­line when his shot was saved and then in­ad­ver­tently turned in by Ice­land de­fender Hol­mar Orn Eyjolf­s­son.

The Paris Saint-Ger­main for­ward then lev­elled from the penalty spot in the 90th minute af­ter Kol­beinn Sigth­ors­son han­dled at a cor­ner.

“The team saw we needed to do some­thing else. I bring what I can do,” Mbappe told TF1.

France coach Di­dier Deschamps fielded six of the play­ers that be­gan the World Cup fi­nal against Croa­tia, hand­ing in-form Mar­seille winger Flo­rian Thau­vin his first start as Mbappe was left on the bench.

Ice­land were beaten 5-2 by France in the quar­ter­fi­nals of Euro 2016, and new coach Erik Ham­ren’s reign had started dis­as­trously with two heavy de­feats to open their Na­tions League cam­paign.

But the Nordic na­tion stunned the hosts as As­ton Villa mid­fielder Bjar­na­son beat Hugo Lloris with a low strike af­ter Al­fred Finnbo­ga­son robbed Pres­nel Kim­pembe.

Ar­na­son con­nected su­perbly at a cor­ner, head­ing in via the un­der­side of the bar, as Ice­land surged two goals clear on 58 min­utes and on course for a first win since beat­ing Kosovo 2-0 last Oc­to­ber.

Mbappe promptly re­placed Griez­mann, and the teenager soon had the ball in the back of the net only for it to be cor­rectly ruled out for off­side.

It was a warn­ing that went un­heeded by Ice­land, as Mbappe was at the ori­gin of an at­tack that saw France pull a goal back with four min­utes to play.

His shot from a tight an­gle was well saved by Ru­nars­son but the re­bound flew straight into the un­wit­ting Eyjolf­s­son, who was help­less as the ball rolled over the line.

Mbappe then snatched a draw in the fi­nal minute with a nerve­less spot-kick. – AFP

The team saw we needed to do some­thing else. I bring what I can do. Kylian Mbappe France striker

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