Football

Olivier Giroud edges closer to Thierry Henry's goal record for France

Olivier Giroud continued his remarkable scoring record for France with a brace as the World Cup holders came from behind to beat Sweden 4-2 in the Nations League yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Viktor Claesson's deflected early strike gave the away side the lead behind closed doors at the Stade de France, but Giroud soon equalised and Benjamin Pavard put France ahead before half-time.

Giroud then headed in a Kylian Mbappe cross to make it 3-1 before the hour mark, taking him to 44 goals in 105 appearances for his country. Kingsley Coman scored France's final goal after Robin Quaison netted Sweden's second of the night.

Having recently overtaken Michel Platini's tally of 41 goals for Les Bleus, Giroud is now closing in on Thierry Henry's overall record of 51.

The 34-year-old has not always been a popular member of the France side, but remains a key player for coach Didier Deschamps despite being on the periphery with his club Chelsea, for whom he has started just one game this season.

"I am used to being heckled and jeered. That has just been part of my experience, of my career, but it only makes me stronger," Giroud told television station M6.

Deschamps reiterated his stand that Giroud should look to leave Chelsea to get more regular football in the build-up to next year's European Championship.

"The situation in March may not be the same as it is today. But, between the young players who came and who we were able to see - and it is important that they have playing time - and the old ones who are still there, some may be in difficulty like Giroud," said Deschamps.

DEAL WITH SITUATION

"Of course, he has to deal with his situation, psychologically and physically, but today he's still there and he's scored two.

"You are going to tell me that he won points and Anthony Martial lost some, but no, it's the France team that win points. I have different options. I have top players and that's perfect."

France had already secured top spot in League A, Group 3 ahead of holders Portugal, hence qualifying for the Nations League Finals next October.

Portugal stayed second after defeating 10-man Croatia 3-2, thanks to a brace from Manchester City defender Ruben Dias. - AFP

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