Football

Giroud ends barren run in France’s win over Holland

France striker Olivier Giroud ended a run of 10 international games without a goal by netting a stunning winner as the world champions claimed a deserved 2-1 victory over Holland in their Nations League clash yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The night started with a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise as France played their first home fixture since lifting the World Cup in July, and ended with a comfortable victory for the hosts at the Stade de France.

The excellent Kylian Mbappe set France on their way with a first-half opener, but forward Ryan Babel equalised for the visitors with their only meaningful shot on target, Reuters reported.

Giroud produced a superb volley 15 minutes from full-time to seal the win, as France recorded a fifth successive victory over the Dutch.

"The victory is the most important thing for the party to be really beautiful," France coach Didier Deschamps told broadcaster M6.

"I'm very happy for Olivier. It happens that strikers have periods when they are less effective.

"I said before the World Cup, Olivier is often unjustly criticised. We cannot ask him to do what other attackers do, but he is very important to the team. It is when he is not there that we realise his value."

Giroud's strike takes his international goal tally to 32, past the great Zinedine Zidane on France's all-time scorers list.

"A cross for the striker, you just have to defend that. That has nothing to do with quality, it should not happen," a frustrated Dutch coach Ronald Koeman told NOS.

"We worked hard and played well. We showed that if we really try to play football, then we can. We are on the right track, but we have to improve on some things. Teams such as France will punish our mistakes mercilessly."

Meanwhile, Giroud's attacking partner Antoine Griezmann offers no apologies as France strive to win matches and not entertain like Barcelona, espn.co.uk reported.

Deschamps' side came in for criticism for their displays in Russia, especially in their semi-final clash with Belgium.

Les Bleus won the game 1-0, courtesy of a Samuel Umtiti header from a corner-kick, and were slammed by Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard for their approach - playing to win and be successful, even if it means to be unspectacular.

Earlier in the tournament, Griezmann had drawn similarities between the playing styles of France and his club Atletico Madrid.

"The victory (over Holland) made things easier for the party afterwards," Griezmann said.

"We wanted to see our fans, to play at the Stade de France, and in front of our families.

"We try to give them what they expect. Of course, we don't play like Spain or Barca, but we try to win for them. The World Cup, we'll have that for life."

Football