After suffering a defeat to Croatia in their own stadium by the score of 1-0 on Monday, the defending champion France was out from contention for the Nations League championship.
While all was going on, Denmark improved its chances of making it to the Final Four by winning 2-0 over Austria.
With only the group winner advancing to the next round, Denmark has nine points, two more than Croatia, which is in second position. After playing four games without a victory, France was in last place with just two points, while Austria was in third place with four. Relegation is given to the team that finishes in last place.
At the Stade de France, star midfielder Luka Modric converted the penalty kick that was awarded to his team in the fifth minute. It was there that he played so commandingly for the team that won the Champions League little over two weeks ago in the final, and he belied his advanced years with a showing full of intelligent passing and deft movement into space.
After the game, the supporters of Croatia yelled “Luka, Luka” to their team’s heroic captain, who acknowledged them by giving a thumbs up.
In the first half of the match in Copenhagen, Jonas Older Wind and Andreas Skov Olsen, both wide strikers, scored Denmark’s goals.
On September 22, Croatia will be playing host to Denmark in a match that will decide first place.
Antoine Griezmann has not scored for France since the beginning of January, and Didier Deschamps, the team’s head coach, has finally decided to bench him in favour of Christopher Nkunku, who will play in attack with Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe.
On Friday in Austria, the game was tied 1-1 thanks to a late equaliser scored by Mbappe, which was made possible by a deft ball from Nkunku.
The band at the Stade de France stopped playing at the beginning of “La Marseillaise,” and the majority of the 77,400 fans sang it in an a cappella manner instead. Perhaps this was done to awaken the players.
After Ibrahima Konate fouled Josip Brekalo for the penalty, the crowd in the home stadium went silent as Croatia was awarded the penalty.
Mike Maignan began in goal instead of Hugo Lloris, who has been the No. 1 goalkeeper for a long time. Although Maignan made the correct guess, he was unable to prevent Modric’s powerful effort from entering the left corner of the net.
Despite France’s 4-2 victory against Croatia in the 2018 World Cup final, the Croats were the superior team that evening against a French team that lacked effort in the middle of the field. Croatia’s midfield, led by the skill of Modric, who is now 36 years old, masterfully cut off the supply line to star attackers Benzema and Mbappe.
As France found more space, Benzema came close to scoring in the middle of the second half, and Griezmann earned a thunderous ovation when he came in as a substitute in the last ten minutes.
Benzema had a header during stoppage time that goalkeeper Ivica Ivusic did well to save as French dreams faded away.
At the final whistle, a little child jumped onto the field and hurried toward Benzema. This prompted the security personnel to intercede, but Benzema embraced the youngster, took off his jersey, and gave it to him.