STOCKHOLM: A slice of luck and a moment of individual brilliance during a mazy run from Kylian Mbappe gave France a gritty 1-0 win away to Sweden in their Nations League A Group 3 clash on Saturday with Antoine Griezmann even missing a last-minute penalty.
France coach Didier Deschamps tried a new 3-4-1-2 system but the Swedes, promoted to the competition’s top tier after their group victory last year, frustrated the world champions for the first 40 minutes until Mbappe proved to be the difference.
The 21-year-old Paris St Germain striker got a fortunate bounce off a defender’s legs as he danced through the right side of the Swedish defence before beating goalkeeper Robin Olsen from a very tight angle at his near post.
With the clock ticking towards 90 minutes, Sweden winger Emil Forsberg forced a fine save from Hugo Lloris and Marcus Berg thumped a shot that was deflected wide for a corner that the hosts could not capitalise on as France held firm.
Anthony Martial, who was in the French squad for the first time since March 2018 and came on in the second half for Mbappe, was brought down by Victor Lindelof for a late penalty.
However, Griezmann fired over over the bar with the final kick of the game and, despite France‘s attack failing to fire, Deschamps declared himself satisfied with the result.
“Not everything was perfect. It’s a new system that worked pretty well, (but) we could have done better in attacking terms,” he told French TV channel M6.
Mbappe was pleased with his coach’s tactical switch.
“I like being closer to goal in this system, it makes me happy. I think its a system that suits the characteristics of other players in the team too, and we’ll work on it to make it work,” he said.
On Tuesday, Sweden host Portugal, who beat Croatia 4-1 on Saturday, while France take on the Croatians in Paris.