Mbappe's absence is a loss for us: France midfielder Tchouameni after draw with Netherlands

AFP , Saturday 22 Jun 2024

France drew 0-0 against the Netherlands without Kylian Mbappe as both teams took a step closer to the last 16 of Euro 2024 on Friday, while Ukraine earned an emotional win over Slovakia.

France s forward #10 Kylian Mbappe walks on the pitch at the end of the UEFA Euro 2024 Group D football match between the Netherlands and France at the Leipzig Stadium in Leipzig on June 21, 2024. AFP

Mbappe watched from the bench as an unused substitute in Leipzig, the new Real Madrid recruit forced to wear a mask in training this week after breaking his nose in France's opening game of the tournament.

Didier Deschamps included Mbappe in his matchday squad but elected not to risk his star striker, with qualification for the knockout phase largely assured.

"Of course Kylian is one of the best players in the world, so a player like that who is not on the pitch is a loss for us. But other players performed really well," said France midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni.

"We hope he comes back as soon as possible."

Dutch midfielder Xavi Simons had a goal controversially ruled out for offside in the second half, while Antoine Griezmann, captaining France in Mbappe's absence, was guilty of wasting his team's two best opportunities to score.

"I had two chances, but they got caught up in my feet. It's a real shame," said Griezmann.

"We have to work (on scoring). I think that defensively we were OK, tactically we were fine, we're just missing this goal for the strikers but it's going to be fine."

Simons thought he had fired the Netherlands ahead with 20 minutes left but Denzel Dumfries was deemed to be interfering with France goalkeeper Mike Maignan and the goal was disallowed after a lengthy VAR check.

"For me it was a valid goal, but he didn't give it. It's a shame," said Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk.

"One point is good. We haven't lost, it's all in our hands."

Poland, who lost 3-1 to Austria in Berlin, became the first team dumped out following the draw between France and the Netherlands in the late Group D fixture.

France play the eliminated Poles in their final group match on Tuesday. They are level on four points at the top with the Dutch, who face Austria at the same time.

- Ukraine comeback -

Ukraine's players shed tears of joy as the team playing in their first international tournament since Russian forces invaded in February 2022 came from behind to beat Slovakia 2-1 to move second in Group E.

Their first win of Euro 2024 also earned a message of congratulations from the country's president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Roman Yaremchuk came off the bench to hit the winner in Duesseldorf.

After a bruising 3-0 defeat by Romania in their opener, Ukraine showed spirit to fight back with Mykola Shaparenko levelling early in the second half following Ivan Schranz's opener.

Zelensky said "Way to go guys!" in a message on social media network X, saying the result showed his country can "take a punch and overcome obstacles".

"The players showed the spirit of Ukraine on the pitch and deserved the win," said coach Serhiy Rebrov.

- Lewandowski ineffective -

Poland are heading for the exit despite the return of talisman Robert Lewandowski from a thigh injury.

Lewandowski, who missed Poland's opening loss to the Dutch, came on as a substitute but could not help his team make inroads against Ralf Rangnick's sturdy Austrian side.

Poland striker Krzysztof Piatek levelled Gernot Trauner's opener, but Christoph Baumgartner restored the lead for Austria in the second half and Marko Arnautovic sealed the win with a late penalty.

After their second defeat of the tournament, Poland coach Michal Probierz insisted Lewandowski was fit to play.

"He was fully fit and he has practised with the team," said Probierz.

On Saturday, Belgium will attempt to bounce back from a shock 1-0 loss to Slovakia in their Group E opener as they play Romania in Cologne.

Portugal can secure a last-16 spot if they beat Turkey in Dortmund, while Czech Republic and debutants Georgia are searching for their first points in Group F as they meet for the first time in Hamburg.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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