An Antoine Griezmann stunner wasn’t enough to give Didier Deschamps’ France a win in the opening game of their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign, as Ukraine held Les Bleus to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday night.
The hosts dominated the first half, controlling possession as expected, and it was a little bit of magic from Griezmann in the 19th minute that broke the deadlock. ‘Grizou’ won the ball off Oleksandr Zinchenko on the corner of the box and then curled the ball into Georgi Buschan’s top corner to make it 1-0.
Despite building pressure from the hosts, it was Ukraine who managed to pull one back after the break. Oleksandr Karavaev’s pull back was met by Serhiy Sydorchuk, whose effort cannoned off Presnel Kimpembe into the back of the net to level the scores after 57 minutes.
The hosts had the better of the chances as they mounted the pressure on their visitors, but a resolute Ukraine held on for a point on the opening matchday of Group D. Now, let’s take a look at how Les Bleus rated…
Hugo Lloris (GK) – 6/10 – Couldn’t do anything about the equaliser as the deflection completely fooled him, and had very little to do throughout.
Benjamin Pavard (RB) – 7/10 – Didn’t have that much defending to do but was brilliant on the front foot, supplying fantastic delivery down the right with three key passes.
Raphael Varane (CB) – 6/10 – Held a very high line at the heart of defence and was able to look forward on the ball, often picking out his striking colleagues but sometimes looked a little flustered when Ukraine came knocking.
Presnel Kimpembe (CB) – 5/10 – A solid display, notably covering brilliantly whenever Ukraine looked to be getting in behind, but was unlucky to give away the own goal as Sydorchuk’s effort flew his way. Also missed a gilt-edged chance in the dying embers to head home a winner.
Lucas Hernandez (LB) – 6/10 – Showed great athleticism up and down the left, tracking back to stifle counter attacks as well as managing two key passes in advanced positions.
N’Golo Kante (CM) – 7/10 – Kante did what Kante does. A perfect screen to cover a backline that pushed the full backs as far up as possible, plugging in the gaps and making seven ball recoveries.
Adrien Rabiot (CM) – 4/10 – Looked more threatening when pushed further up after the introduction of Paul Pogba but, overall, failed to influence the match at all.
Antoine Griezmann (AM) – 8/10 – Played with such fluidity and was the composer of Les Bleus’ attacking symphony. Linked up play beautifully, maintaining a 90% pass accuracy and scored a phenomenal goal to break the deadlock.
Kingsley Coman (RW) – 6/10 – Was desperately unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty when he was clattered by Buschan in the area but, overall, didn’t create too much, often choosing to play the simple pass rather than driving at the opposition.
Olivier Giroud (ST) – 6/10 – Missed a couple of good chances in the first period but worked tirelessly as usual. Important in linking attacking moves and creating space for team mates.
Kylian Mbappe (LW) – 4/10 – Lacked bite and grit in his performance. Was sloppy at times and never really managed to impose himself on the game, failing to register a shot on target.
Ousmane Dembele (RW) – 5/10
Paul Pogba (CM) – 6/10
Anthony Martial (ST) – N/A