France needed a powerful long-range strike from Youssouf Fofana in the 74th minute to rescue the draw (file pic). Alamy Stock Photo
Group B

100% record denied as France held by Greece in final Euro 2024 qualifier

Elsewhere in Ireland’s group, Netherlands thumped Gibraltar 6-0.

CAPTAIN KYLIAN MBAPPE was given a rest from the starting line-up as France came from behind to draw 2-2 in Greece in their final Euro 2024 qualifier on Tuesday.

Last year’s World Cup runners-up had already secured a spot at the upcoming finals in Germany as one of the top seeds but were looking to finish with a one hundred percent record from their eight games in Group B.

In the end France needed a powerful long-range strike by Monaco midfielder Youssouf Fofana in the 74th minute to deny Greece, European champions in 2004, the victory.

They might have won it in stoppage time, however, when Kingsley Coman’s deflected cutback appeared to cross the goal-line before spinning back onto the post and out.

However, it was missed by the officials, who had no technology to help them. 

Screen Shot 2023-11-21 at 22.38.30 Uefa / Wikipedia. Uefa / Wikipedia. / Wikipedia.

Fofana had played a part in France’s opener three minutes before half-time, as his pass was laid off by Olivier Giroud for Paris Saint-Germain striker Randal Kolo Muani, who took a touch and drilled a powerful strike in off the underside of the bar from a tight angle.

The hosts were already confirmed in third place in the group, with the Netherlands the other automatic qualifiers.

Greece know their chances of reaching the Euro will depend on the outcome of play-offs next March, in which they will take on Kazakhstan for the right to play Georgia or Luxembourg in a decider.

Yet they produced a determined fightback at the OPAP Arena in Athens, drawing level 11 minutes after the restart thanks to a fine volley from the edge of the box by captain Tasos Bakasetas that gave goalkeeper Brice Samba no chance.

Five minutes later, Fotis Ioannidis gave them the lead after being set up by Dimitris Giannoulis.

Fofana equalised before the drama at the end, which also saw Mbappe, on as a substitute, denied an injury-time winner as his strike was tipped onto the bar and over by goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos.

While the Republic of Ireland played out a 1-1 international friendly draw against New Zealand, Netherlands thumped Gibraltar 6-0 in the other game in Group B.

Calvin Stangs bagged a hat-trick, with Mats Wieffer, Teun Koopmeiners and Cody Gakpo also on target as the Dutch scored three goals in each half at Loule Stadium.

– © AFP 2023

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