Munich – A Mats Hummels own goal was enough to hand France a 1-0 victory over Germany today as the world champions made a winning start to their Euro 2020 campaign by controlling the game in Munich.
Hummels turned the ball into his own net in the 20th minute, which ultimately decided the contest.
France also saw Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema have second half goals ruled offside, while Adrien Rabiot hit the post for Les Bleus.
“It was a clash that could have been a semifinal or a final, so to take three points was important,” said France coach Didier Deschamps.
“We played a big game against a very good German team, but we were up to the level and this victory does us good.”
The result leaves France second on goal difference in the early Group F table behind Portugal, after the holders’ 3-0 win over Hungary earlier in Budapest.
The home defeat piles the pressure on Germany ahead of their next game against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal on Sunday, also at the Allianz Arena.
“It was a brutally intense game,” said Germany head coach Joachim Low.
“We fought until the end and I can’t blame the team, we gave it everything we had.
“What was missing was a bit of penetrating power in the final third. We didn’t do enough there.”
He refused to blame Hummels for the own goal, saying: “There is no need to reproach Mats for the own goal. It was difficult for him to clear.”
Low, who will stand down after the European Championship, is desperate to avoid a repeat of the 2018 World Cup when Die Mannschaft suffered the humiliation of finishing bottom of their group.
Heartbreak for Hummels
It was a heartbreaking night for Hummels, back to boost the German defence after a two-year exile from international football.
Seven years ago, it was Hummels’ headed goal which knocked France out of the 2014 World Cup in the quarterfinals as Germany went on to win the title in Brazil.
The opening 15 minutes today were spent with the European heavyweights tentatively probing each other’s defence until the French started to exert pressure and landed a sucker punch.
France’s Bayern Munich defender Lucas Hernandez met Paul Pogba’s magnificent pass with a low cross from the left flank which Hummels, to his horror, turned into his own net.
There was plenty of first half niggle.
Germany defender Antonio Rudiger appeared to attempt to bite the back of France midfielder Pogba, who he was tightly marking.
Joshua Kimmich was booked in only the seventh minute for a late tackle on his Bayern teammate Hernandez.
France made a strong start to the second half as Rabiot hit the post, but then Germany started to threaten the French goal, with Serge Gnabry firing over.
The hosts had a let-off when Mbappe hit the net after cutting inside and curling in a superb shot on 66 minutes, but the goal was ruled out.
With 16 minutes left, Low put fresh legs into Germany’s attack with Leroy Sane and Timo Werner replacing Kai Havertz and Serge Gnabry, but the French defence held firm.
In the final 10 minutes, Mbappe was furious to be denied a penalty when a Hummels tackle from behind just pushed the ball out of harm’s way before the France forward crashed to the turf.
In his first competitive international since France’s defeat by Germany at the 2014 World Cup, Benzema looked to have sealed the win when he tapped in Mbappe’s pass in the dying stages, but VAR caught the Paris St Germain star offside again. — AFP