France finally celebrated winning the World Cup with their home fans on Sunday after Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud both scored in a 2-1 win over the Netherlands in Paris.
Giroud (pictured celebratibg, AFP) swept in the winner from a Benjamin Mendy cross in the 75th minute for his first goal in 11 games in a France shirt, after the Chelsea striker went through the entirety of his country’s triumphant campaign in Russia without scoring.
On their first appearance on home soil since the World Cup, Mbappe had earlier put France ahead in an explosive performance from the 19-year-old, before Ryan Babel briefly restored parity in the second half.
The Stade de France exploded in celebration at Giroud’s winner in a game that had a competitive edge as part of UEFA’s new Nations League.
However, this match on a balmy evening was really just a prelude to World Cup victory celebrations on the pitch in front of almost 80,000 fans at the national stadium after the final whistle.
“The victory was the most important thing, so we can have a great party,” coach Didier Deschamps told television station M6. “I am really pleased for Olivier. Strikers can have periods like that where they are not as efficient, but he is useful in our build-up play, he scored a lovely goal, and on top of that it gave us the victory.”
The French team and their supporters saw this occasion as the opportunity to make up for the lack of a memorable public celebration in the immediate aftermath of the World Cup triumph in Russia.
The day after beating Croatia 4-2 in the final, Les Bleus paraded hurriedly down the Champs-Elysees in Paris en route to a reception hosted by President Emmanuel Macron.
The rushed nature of those celebrations disappointed the estimated 300,000 fans who took to the streets, and so this time the victorious squad were presented one by one to supporters after the final whistle.
Eriksen punishes Wales
The World Cup trophy was shown off as well, and the squad undertook a lap of honour, singing with supporters, at the stadium where France first won it in 1998.
“Now is the time to have a party,” Paul Pogba told M6. “When we came back to France it was very short. There was all the security around the bus and we couldn’t really celebrate with the public.
“This time we are at the Stade de France – it’s full, it’s beautiful.”
Meanwhile, Christian Eriksen scored twice in a 2-0 victory over Wales in the Nations League on Sunday as Denmark’s first-team players returned after boycotting a midweek friendly over a contract dispute.
The Tottenham midfielder put the Danes ahead with just over half an hour gone in Aarhus. Eriksen then added a second on 63 minutes from the penalty spot after Ethan Ampadu handled.
Age Hareide’s Denmark go top of a group that also includes the Republic of Ireland, who were routed 4-1 by Wales in their opening game on Thursday.
Danish preparations were hit by a standoff between their players’ union and the country’s football association (DBU) over commercial rights.
The issue led to Denmark fielding a side comprised of lower-league and futsal players in Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to Slovakia, but both parties reached a one-match truce to ensure a full-strength squad would face Wales.
“I think no matter how the week developed I think this is what we wanted,” said Eriksen, with both the players and DBU hoping to reach a new agreement ahead of next month’s game with Ireland.
Ryan Giggs’s men suffered a hitch of their own when a technical problem with their plane severely delayed their arrival in Denmark, and forced the cancellation of a pre-match press conference.