France beat Germany 1-0 in Munich as Group F got off to a wild start, but the victory will be overshadowed by Antonio Rudiger’s “nibble” on Paul Pogba.
A goal against his camp by Mats Hummels in the first period hurt the Blues in Munich.
The game, no matter how good the action, should be talking about an altercation between Rudiger and Pogba.
With France already in the lead, Germany was frustrated and their Chelsea defender went a bit too far.
Struggling with Manchester United ace Pogba, he shifted his face to his opponent’s back before appearing to bite.
The Frenchman appeared to scream in pain and then spoke to officials but there was no intervention about it, even from VAR. UEFA, however, could revisit the incident.
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In the opening trades of the game, France barely saw the ball with the Germans pushing hard for a first game, while Joshua Kimmich earned a yellow card for a challenge against Bayern Munich teammate Lucas Hernandez.
Deschamps’ men struggled to get back into the game and after 16 minutes Pogba scored a corner from Griezmann over the bar and should have made better contact after beating his marker.
Shortly after the Manchester United man beat the turf in frustration, Mbappe forced Manuel Neuer to make a hard save.
And as they continued their resurgence, they drew the first blood in the Battle of the Juggernauts.
Clever work on the right of a throw-in freed Pogba, his passage to Hernandez on the left was delicious and, with Mbappe in hiding, Mats Hummels scratched the center of the full-back in the bottom of his own. net.
Germany sought to react quickly but Thomas Muller failed to get the connection he wanted on a header.
A free kick from Toni Kroos then crashed into the wall, while Kimmich exuberantly claimed a penalty but the ball only hit N’Golo Kante’s chest.
Meanwhile, Ilkay Gundogan unleashed a 12-yard shot when he should have done better, especially given his form in the Premier League this season.
It was a fiery game and Hernandez was doing all he could to try and get Kimmich a second yellow card with a dramatic reaction to an accidental kick to the head.
But the strangest moment came next with Rudiger appearing to bite Pogba’s back as the pair struggled before a touchdown.
Half-time allowed the teams to regain some composure but the Blues seemed dangerous again.
Juventus star Adrien Rabiot smashed a shot into the post, which he might have done better with, but at the other end Gnabry then scuffed a wide shot.
Presnel Kimpembe prevented Kai Havertz from scoring with a vital interception as the Group F meeting remained breathless in Bavaria.
France then ruled out a strike from Mbappe for offside as they pushed for more goals with Pogba pulling the strings, not letting early events get into their heads.
And soon after, Hummels redeemed himself with a superb recovery tackle on the Paris Saint-Germain speedster.
France had the ball back in the net with six minutes to go, but Karim Benzema’s strike, after another beautiful ball from Pogba, who has been exceptional throughout, in Mbappe was ruled out as the ace of PSG was offside to receive it.
Six minutes of added time were allowed, but Germany just couldn’t count as they lost at home.
But Rudiger and Pogba at least hugged and reconciled at the final whistle, with the Man United star comforting his opponent.
With Portugal beating Hungary 3-0 in the group’s other game, Joachim Low’s side will now have to fight in their last two matches.
But world champions France are now in an excellent position to qualify in the squad, but know that Cristiano Ronaldo’s men and the stubborn Hungarian will not just ride for them.
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