Benzema crucial to France's Nations League triumph – Deschamps

By Sports Desk October 10, 2021

France head coach Didier Deschamps hailed "crucial" Karim Benzema after the star forward guided Les Bleus to Nations League glory.

Benzema scored a stunning equaliser as world champions France came from behind to beat Spain 2-1 in Sunday's final in Milan.

After Mikel Oyarzabal broke the deadlock, Benzema struck moments later in sublime fashion to restore parity before Kylian Mbappe settled the contest 10 minutes from the end.

Benzema ended the Nations League Finals as the joint leading scorer alongside Mbappe and Spain's Ferran Torres to cap a particularly pleasing campaign for the Real Madrid talisman, who had spent more than five years in international exile before returning ahead of Euro 2020.

"Karim is a crucial player, and he has proven over the course of these two matches that he has very obvious talent," Deschamps told reporters.

"It's there for all to see, he is really kicked on from what he has been showing at club level with Real Madrid, he's got that desperate will to win. He's here exactly to do that, and he's communicated a great deal with his teammates, I am very happy for everyone, but especially for him.

"He needed that, he's not going to play another four or five international competitions, at least I don't think so. It's not the most important trophy, but he did everything, and he was very significant for us when it came to coming here and winning the Nations League. 

"It's important of course to have come from behind and equalised. I am personally very happy for Karim, that's why he is here. He scores a bucket-load of goals with his club and he does likewise for France, and besides the goals that he scores... he has that wonderful will to win, and you can see that come out.

"I am delighted as for the future of course, it is very important, besides the talent that he or other players might possess, there also this mental strength he's got this competitive edge which is absolutely crucial at the highest level."

Deschamps' France are now unbeaten in 25 competitive matches, only doing better once in their history between 1994 and 1999, thanks to exploits of Benzema and Mbappe at San Siro.

Mbappe finished the Nations League Finals with four goal involvements – more than any other player.

Deschamps, whose France were shocked by Switzerland in the last 16 at Euro 2020, added: "There are no regrets in football, that is part of the past, some people might agree or disagree, but there was a 10-minute window when we had a bit of a black-out [against Switzerland].

"And the scenario went against us here, we went behind by two goals [in the semi-final against Belgium], that can happen, but it was all about what we had done well before. But it was of course a bit of a sudden stop, and we did of course have ambitions to go further. But it's not a case that you have to throw everything out of the window, throw the baby out with the bathwater, quite the opposite.

"Even if it is not the same personnel. We have some young players who have very few caps, like Theo Hernandez, or Aurelien Tchouameni this evening. We threw them in there. And the team's level didn't suffer, there will be a lot of effervescence in this side, there will be competition for places and for those that are in form as you know the best possible remedy is to win trophies and there was something up for grabs tonight and I am very happy for the entire squad that was here during the two games that we won here." 

Related items

  • Embiid carries 76ers to OT win with 43-point double-double, Warriors' Curry sinks half-court buzzer-beater Embiid carries 76ers to OT win with 43-point double-double, Warriors' Curry sinks half-court buzzer-beater

    Joel Embiid produced a monster double-double to lift the Philadelphia 76ers past the Charlotte Hornets 127-124 in overtime.

    Embiid carried the 76ers (13-11) to victory away to the Hornets on Monday, posting a season-high 43 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists.

    Last season's MVP runner-up, Embiid – scorer of six of Philadelphia's eight points in OT – was 15-of-20 shooting as he recorded his 10th career 40-point, 15-rebound game for the 76ers – only Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain (30) has more in franchise history.

    Tobias Harris added 21 points and 11 rebounds for the 76ers, who claimed back-to-back victories while extending their winning streak against the Hornets to 15 games, dating back to 2017.

    Kelly Oubre Jr.'s 35 points, which included six three-pointers, was not enough for the Hornets (14-12).

     

    Curry up to his old tricks

    Stephen Curry nailed a stunning half-court buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter in the Golden State Warriors' 126-95 rout of the lowly Orlando Magic. Curry finished with 31 points and eight assists, while Andrew Wiggins (28 points) nailed a career-high eight three-pointers.

    Birthday boy Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 and 12 rebounds to inspire defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks to a 112-104 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Milwaukee won for the 10th time in 11 games on Antetokounmpo's 27th birthday.

    Despite a triple-double from reigning MVP Nikola Jokic (17 points, 12 rebounds and a season-high 15 assists), the Denver Nuggets were beaten 109-97 by the high-flying Chicago Bulls.

     

    Portland's skid continues

    The Portland Trail Blazers tasted defeat for the third consecutive game after going down 102-90 to the Los Angeles Clippers. The shorthanded Blazers – playing without All-Star Damian Lillard – have lost six of their last seven games and have the worst defence this season.

  • England star Anderson 'fit' but will miss Ashes opener England star Anderson 'fit' but will miss Ashes opener

    James Anderson is "fit" but the star England paceman will not face Australia in the Ashes opener at the Gabba as a precaution.

    The Ashes series between Australia and England will get underway in Brisbane on Wednesday, however, the tourists will be without key quick Anderson.

    Reports on the eve of the first Test claimed Anderson was hampered by a calf problem, though the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) dismissed that claim on Tuesday.

    "Jimmy is fit to play, and is not carrying an injury," an ECB statement said. "With five Tests in six weeks the plan was to get him ready for the second Test in Adelaide.

    "With the limited build-up we have had so far on the tour, both him and the management didn't want to take the risk of him playing after what had happened in 2019 at Edgbaston, when he broke down on the first morning.

    "He bowled at full capacity yesterday for just short of an hour and was in a good place physically. He will do the same again today at practice.

    "He will stay with the Test group this week and work with the coaches at the Gabba rather than playing for the Lions."

    England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler was also asked about Anderson in the pre-game news conference on Tuesday.

    Visiting England are looking to reclaim the urn from Australia's grip.

    "I think just with the build-up everyone has had, I think the guys just want to make sure everyone is perfect to go," Buttler told reporters.

    "Jimmy's not going to play but he is fit, it's obviously a very long series and we want a guy like that to be available to play as much part in it as possible.

    "I think it's just a bit precautionary, bowled well yesterday, bowled again today and obviously bowled a few spells in the couple of days we had as a warm-up game.

    "He is fit, but the guys are just being a bit cautious."

    England have won two of their last three Tests against Australia – including a 135-run win when they last met, though they are winless in their last 10 away Tests to Australia (D1, L9) having last won in the country in January 2011.

    Joe Root's England have lost six of their last nine Tests heading into this series (W1 D2) and have lost their last three Tests away from home. The last time they lost more consecutive away Tests was a seven-game stretch from November 2016 to December 2017.

  • Patriots beat Bills in wild weather for seventh straight win Patriots beat Bills in wild weather for seventh straight win

    The New England Patriots stayed hot in the NFL on Monday after extending their winning streak to seven games after prevailing 14-10 against the Buffalo Bills.

    Not even wild and windy weather could stop the red-hot Patriots, who are the AFC's number one seed thanks to their success away to the Bills.

    Entering the matchup, New England had won six straight games – the franchise's longest winning streak since they celebrated eight successive games to start 2019.

    Bill Belichick's Patriots continued where they left off at Bills Stadium, where the team improved to 9-4 despite rookie quarterback Mac Jones only throwing two-for-three passing for 19 yards and no touchdowns, while tallying another five carries for minus three yards.

    It was a gruelling battle between the top two teams for fewest points allowed this season – Buffalo had conceded just 182 points, with New England giving up 190.

    An eventful opening quarter saw the Patriots and Bills trade touchdowns after Buffalo's Gabriel Davis caught a 14-yard pass from Josh Allen (15-of-30 passing for 145 yards and a TD), having seen Damien Harris complete a dazzling 64-yard run.

    Harris' touchdown was the longest rushing TD by a Patriots player since Hall of Famer Curtis Martin (70 yards) in 1997.

    The game was eventually decided by the kickers – Nick Folk converting a field goal in each of the second and fourth quarters to sink the Bills (7-5).

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.