Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappé struck as France came from behind to win the UEFA Nations League final.
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France produced another stunning turnaround to beat Spain 2-1 and win their first UEFA Nations League title in Milan.Spain vs France: as it happened, reaction
Match in brief
These sides were both involved in semi-finals that thrilled from the off, but this occasion delivered a more cagey opening 45 minutes. Karim Benzema skipped round Unai Simón but failed to cut the ball back for a team-mate early on while Spain hoarded possession thereafter without threatening. Les Bleus did suffer a setback before the break, though, as Raphaël Varane was forced off injured.
The pattern continued until the game exploded into life in the 64th minute when Benzema's cross was thumped against the underside of the bar by Theo Hernández. Just 40 seconds later, however, France found themselves behind as Sergio Busquets' through ball was driven across Hugo Lloris by Mikel Oyarzabal. The touchpaper had been lit.
Indeed, La Roja's joy proved short-lived, because Benzema curled a sensational effort into the far corner from 25 metres within two minutes. The question now was whether Didier Deschamps' men could repeat the trick they had performed against Belgium in the last four, when they had come from two behind to win.
The answer arrived on 80 minutes as the reigning world champions completed their second successive fightback. Kylian Mbappé timed his run on to Hernández's pass to perfection and swept the winner underneath Unai Simón, though it required two fine late saves from Lloris to seal the silverware.
Player of the Match: Karim Benzema (France)
"An incredible goal at the crucial moment while his work-rate off the ball for the team was brilliant."
Robbie Keane, UEFA Technical Observer
Graham Hunter, Spain reporter
Spain found this a wholly different experience than the win over Italy – from start to finish. Against tonight's opponents they found space closed down, man-to-man marking in key areas and a high press. As super as Luis Enrique's men patently are, they suffer their own versions of kryptonite and that includes rivals with pace, power and pressure. So to take this contest so deep into the 90 minutes, and to be able to burrow their way into asserting their strengths, was highly laudable. But for all the Spaniards' youthful verve, the better side won here.
David Crossan, France reporter
France again showed their remarkable powers of recovery to underline that something special happened in northern Italy this week in terms of the squad coming together and developing after the disappointment of UEFA EURO 2020. The new 3-4-1-2 system is bedding in and with Benzema and Mbappé scoring for fun, the present and the future both look very bright for Deschamps' side.
Karim Benzema, France forward: "It was a dream night from a personal and a team standpoint. It wasn't easy and we showed the strength of character of this team. We never give up. It's the sign of great teams to never panic and be patient. When you score a goal like that, there's always an element of luck. I knew from the moment it left my boot that it was going in, but not that it would find the top corner."
Didier Deschamps, France coach: "I'm very proud and very happy for the players. We went behind in both our matches. Today we equalised quickly after going behind. Beyond the talent that we have in this team, there's also their character and mentality. In the second half we were more aggressive and forced them into mistakes."
Luis Enrique, Spain coach: "Irrespective of who we play against, or what situation, we always try to play our way – with bravery, attacking with ambition. So tonight it's not so much about the pain of defeat, it's also about a tinge of sadness because we competed very well. The unfairness of football is that we had the chance to put a knockout move on France when we went 1-0 up, but Benzema did something superb."
Mikel Oyarzabal, Spain forward: "I really think that we produced a great performance but they went and produced two really big moments. That's where our win went. We had our chances to score with those saves that Lloris made from me and Yeremi Pino. We worked hard all night and we should be proud of what we did out there."
- France are unbeaten in their last 25 competitive games (W17 D8), doing better only once in their history: between September 1994 and March 1999 (27 games).
- Three of Oyarzabal's six goals for Spain have been scored in the Nations League.
- Antoine Griezmann became the ninth player to reach the 100-cap milestone for France.
- France have won their last five Nations League matches played outside their own country.
Spain: Unai Simón; Azpilicueta, Laporte, Eric García, Alonso; Gavi (Koke 75), Busquets, Rodri (Fornals 84); Sarabia (Pino 61), Ferran Torres (Merino 84), Oyarzabal
France: Lloris; Koundé, Varane (Upamecano 43), Kimpembe; Pavard (Dubois 79), Tchouaméni, Pogba, T Hernández; Griezmann (Veretout 90); Mbappé, Benzema
Spain play Greece in the European Qualifiers on 11 November.
France play Kazakhstan in the European Qualifiers on 13 November.