France failed to win a second consecutive Nations League match as they were held by Croatia on Monday night.
Having been beaten by Denmark in their Group A1 opener, Didier Deschamps side dropped two more points in Split courtesy of Andrej Kramaric’s late penalty.
The first half passed with very little incident, although Croatian defender Domagoj Vida was perhaps lucky to avoid a red card for a reckless, scything tackle on Christopher Nkunku just 20 minutes in.
Moussa Diaby forced a decent save from the impressive Dominik Livakovic from the angle, but that was it for the first period.
France took the lead out of nothing seven minutes into the second half. Adrien Rabiot combined with Wissam Ben Yedder on the left flank before the latter played a sublime through ball in behind the Croatian back line, and the Juventus man to ran in to finish with aplomb.
After Luka Modric had tested Mike Maignan from range, substitute Antoine Griezmann almost capitalised on a defensive error but Livakovic saved well at his near post.
However, Croatia were gifted a route back into the game with eight minutes to go when they were awarded a penalty following a lengthy VAR review for offside. Jonathan Clauss – who had been on the field a matter of moments – was the offender with a clumsy tackle after another good stop from Maignan.
Kramaric stepped up and coolly slotted the spot-kick beyond the Milan goalkeeper.
The game became stretched thereafter and the hosts had two good opportunities to secure a first ever win over France. First, Maignan was on hand again to deny Nikola Vlasic’s effort from the edge, before Luca Sucic dragged a glorious late opening wide from the angle.
It ended all square in Nations League Group A1. Here’s how the France players rated…
GK: Mike Maignan – 7/10 – Made a few saves and was unlucky that a good save led to the penalty. No chance with the spot-kick. Good late stop from Vlasic to save a point.
RB: Benjamin Pavard – 6/10 – Performed well defensively without providing too many thrills in attack.
CB: William Saliba – 6/10 – Made a couple of very important early interventions having committed his immediate future to Arsenal. Passed well but long balls weren’t the best.
CB: Presnel Kimpembe (c) – 6/10 – Solid game up against the troublesome Ante Budimir. Booked for a reckless lunge.
LB: Lucas Dige – 7/10 – Typically industrious up and down the left and battled well defensively.
CM: Matteo Guendouzi – 6/10 – Anchored the side and passed fairly well. Won the majority of his duels.
CM: Aurelien Tchouameni- 6/10 – Unspectacular but battled well and had a good grip on the midfield against three elite opponents in Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic. Subbed.
RM: Moussa Diaby- 5/10 – Didn’t have much joy but stung the keeper’s fingertips with a firm strike in the first period.
AM: Christopher Nkunku – 5/10 – Probed without having too much joy. Probably should have had an assist for Griezmann late on.
LM: Adrien Rabiot – 7/10 – Like a number of teammates he had been quiet but popped up with a moment of real quality. Excellent combination with Ben Yedder and finish.
ST: Wissam Ben Yedder – 6/10 – Very quiet game before playing a lovely assist for Rabiot in the left channel. Subbed soon after.
SUB: Antoine Griezmann (62′ for Ben Yedder) – 5/10 – Spurned a couple of half-chances that would have made the difference.
SUB: Boubacar Kamara (62′ for Tchouameni) – 5/10
SUB: Jonathan Clauss (79′ for Diaby) – 2/10 – Pretty much his first act was to commit the foul that eventually led to the penalty. Not sure he did anything else.