Football

France coach Didier Deschamps hails ‘leader’ Paul Pogba

Les Bleus coach Didier Deschamps hailed Paul Pogba as a leader after France beat Croatia 2-1 in their Nations League A, Group 3 clash in Zagreb yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Substitute Pogba's raking pass found Lucas Digne, who set up Kylian Mbappe's 79th-minute winner.

The Paris Saint-Germain star, who earlier missed an open goal, decided this latest rerun of the 2018 World Cup final in France's favour after Antoine Griezmann's opener had been cancelled out by Nikola Vlasic.

France sit second in the group, level on points with Nations League holders Portugal, who beat Sweden 3-0 and have a better goal difference.

Said Deschamps of Pogba: "He is one of the leaders, he has this capacity to be decisive and also to be a leader in the group.

"He didn't start because it was wiser for him not to start, with the problem that he had. But yes, he is one of the most important players of the team.

"Even though, sometimes, he could have some hard times, but he has this strength to bring together.

"Also, he has this quality in the pre-assist.

"I don't take away anything from the quality of the centre of Lucas Digne, but he has this technique quality - not necessarily by dribbling as he used to do it before - but this pass is the one that triggers everything."

Croatia have yet to beat France, having lost their previous two meetings 4-2.

Defender Dejan Lovren said: "France are ruthlessly efficient and they will punish you every time you switch off, even for a split-second.

"Playing against them is very frustrating because you can be as entertaining as you like but to no avail. The three points is all that matters."

Football