International

Euro 2020: Kante and Giroud help France salvage point

N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud featured in the France side that came from behind to draw 1-1 with a fired-up Hungary playing in front of a capacity home crowd.

Les Bleus were made to work hard by Hungary in temperatures above 30°C as they fought back from going a goal down to secure a point which leaves their chances of topping Group F in their own hands.

Kante and Giroud both created chances for France to win the game, but had to settle for a point as the country’s five-game winning streak came to an end.

France boss Didier Deschamps, himself a former Chelsea midfielder, made just one change to his side at left-back following the 1-0 win over Germany in their opening game, meaning Kante was in the starting line-up again in Budapest, while Giroud was among the substitutes, although there was no place on the bench for Kurt Zouma.

The French made a bright start to the game despite the sweltering heat and hostile atmosphere created inside the full stadium in the Hungarian capital, dominating possession during a high-intensity first half which saw plenty of strong challenges flying in.

Kante created one of France’s most promising opportunities of that opening 45 minutes, when he drove forward out of midfield and beat three men before poking the ball past the final defender, but Karim Benzema had strayed offside.

However, right at the end of the first half, Hungary’s Attila Fiola capitalised on a defensive error by Raphal Varane and calmly slotted past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to give the home side a shock lead at the break.

Kante his team-mates came out strongly in the second half and just after the hour mark they pulled level, when Kylian Mbappe’s low cross was deflected into the path of Antoine Griezmann, leaving the Barcelona man with a simple finish.

They went straight for the second goal, with substitute Ousmane Dembele hitting the post and Kante side-footing a first-time shot narrowly wide from 25 yards.

As France chased the win, Giroud was introduced from the bench by Deschamps, and was unlucky not to create a decisive goal after his clever touch found Mbappe free in the box, but the Paris Saint-Germain forward fired his shot straight at the goalkeeper.

A foul on Kante in the corner gave France a final chance to find a winner in added time, but play was delayed as two Hungary defenders went down injured, followed by a VAR check for a possible French penalty, and then Varane headed just wide with the last attack of the game.

That meant the game finished 1-1 and France will be disappointed not to have taken another win, but it is a result which guarantees Les Bleus will go into their last group game occupying a top-two spot in the table, knowing another draw against Portugal would ensure they make the next round regardless of other results.

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