Denmark stuns France in Nations League opener, Netherlands beat Belgium – NBC10 Philadelphia
Denmark stunned defending champions France 2-1 in their Nations League opener at the Stade de France on Friday, ending the world champions’ seven-game winning streak.
After Karim Benzema put the hosts in front, substitute Andreas Cornelius scored twice to hand Denmark their first win against France since the 2002 World Cup. 88th minute.
France were undefeated in their last 20 matches. He will then travel to Croatia, who lost to Austria 3-0 at home in Group A1.
Meanwhile, Memphis Depay netted twice as the Netherlands claimed their first victory over bitter rivals Belgium in 25 years by 4-1 in Brussels, in another top-flight League A group.
A week after the Champions League final was marred by crowd chaos, no incidents were reported at the Stade de France this time.
France were under pressure in the first 10 minutes but gradually found the right balance and created their first good chance in the 13th minute through Benzema, who returned to the Stade de France a week after lifting the League trophy champions for Real Madrid.
The move marked a good period of dominance for France, with Benzema and Kylian Mbappé combining well to disrupt the Danish defence.
Denmark managed to keep the hosts at bay by closing the gap.
Mbappé, who appeared to be injured, was replaced by Christopher Nkunku after the break. He had an immediate impact and in the 51st minute he set up Benzema, who dribbled past the defenders and fired low for his 37th international goal.
But Cornelius thwarted the offside trap and flew into the net in the 68th. Christian Eriksen came close in the closing stages but French keeper Hugo Lloris made a decisive reflex save to deny his low strike.
Cornelius then gave Denmark the win after connecting with a slicked ball. He resisted defender William Saliba’s challenge and fired into the top corner.
In Brussels, Belgium started well but quickly ran out of steam as their preparation for the World Cup began with a worrying defensive performance in the absence of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
“Most of the time we were really distracted,” said Leandro Trossard. “We gave them way too much space. When we got the ball back, we immediately lost it. The Netherlands showed they are a very strong team that can hurt anyone.”
The Oranje managed 11 attempts on goal in the first half and opened the scoring five minutes before the break. After recovering a pass from Frenkie De Jong with his back to goal, Steven Bergwijn quickly turned and fired a 25-yard shot into the net.
Romelu Lukaku endured a frustrating night, leaving the pitch after 27 minutes after being knocked down, having only touched a few balls.
Depay doubled the Netherlands lead after a bad pass from Dedryck Boyata was intercepted in midfield. Steven Berghuis launched the counter with a deep pass for Depay, who beat Simon Mignolet with a powerful strike.
Denzel Dumfries made it 3-0 in the 61st, and Depay completed his brace soon after from Daley Blind. Michy Batshuayi scored a consolation goal in stoppage time.
The four League A group winners will advance to the final four in June next year. Group winners in lower leagues will be promoted.
This is the third Nations League, a biannual international competition designed to replace FIFA friendlies. Portugal won the inaugural tournament held in 2018-19, followed by France in 2020-21. The Nations League also offers qualification opportunities for the Euros and the World Cup, the two other major international competitions.