The second edition of the UEFA Nations League has finally concluded and we have a new champion in form of France. Didier Deschamps’ side wasn’t at their absolute best in the knockout stages but they held their nerves when it mattered the most. After fighting back from a 2-0 deficit to win the semis 3-2 against Belgium, France had already given a glimpse of their ‘never give up’ attitude.
However, it seemed like Spain had not learnt a lesson from that game. After a hard-fought first hour of the final against France at San Siro, there was nothing separating the two sides. Just moments after a fantastic strike from Theo Hernandez struck the cross-bar, Mikel Oyarzabal showed his physical strength to get past the French defense line before breaking the deadlock on the evening.
Out of nowhere, Spain were 1-0 up and the side just needed to defend for less than half-hour to preserve their lead. But even before they could recover from their celebrations, the score-line was 1-1, courtesy of some individual brilliance from France’s lead striker.
Benzema scores one of the best goals of tournament
It all started when Paul Pogba found ample space in the centre of the field as he kicked off a terrific counter-attacking move for France. The midfielder passed the ball to Kylian Mbappe, who did not take much time to roll it down his left towards Karim Benzema on the edge of the box.
With France on the back foot, the 33-year-old had only one thing on his mind i.e. to pull a goal back for his side. As soon as he received the ball, he got himself in a shooting position before curling the ball towards the goal.
He had struck the ball so sweetly that it went past a diving Unai Simon towards the top corner of Spain’s goal, leaving everyone absolutely stunned.
Watch the video here:
When I struck it, I knew that it was going to go in: Benzema
Reflecting on his amazing strike, Karim Benzema admitted that it is something that he has been practicing for quite some time. He said, “It’s something that I usually try out on the training ground. Normally I play it along the deck but I actually cut inside onto my right, I tried it a lot in the warm-up. But yes it came off well and when I struck it, I knew that it was going to go in. But I didn’t necessarily know it was going to go right in the top corner.”
After Benzema’s equalizer, Kylian Mbappe netted the winner in the 80th minute to guide his side to a thrilling 2-1 win as France lifted the Nations League trophy.