Soccer: Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema lead France over Spain for Nations League title
Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Kylian Mbappe did a stepover with his right foot and buried a shot with his left to beat Spain goalie Unai Simon in the 80th minute and lead France to a victory in the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League Final.
The goal resulted in a 2-1 comeback victory Sunday at San Siro Stadium in Milan. Earlier Sunday, Italy beat Belgium 2-1 to claim third place in the second edition of the biennial tournament contested between European teams.
"We showed our character against a very strong team," Benzema told reporters. "We never gave up. It shows what great teams do -- never panic, be patient and wait for the right time.
"We are going to enjoy this trophy and then go get the World Cup."
Spain and France played a scoreless first half in the finale. Striker Mike Oyarzabal broke the deadlock when he beat France keeper Hugo Lloris for a score in the 64th minute.
Spain center midfielder Sergio Busquets chipped a long pass from midfield to start that play. The pass landed about 35 yards in front of the net. Oyarzabal tapped the ball forward and ran into the box. He finished the play with a left-footed shot into the right side netting.
France forward Karim Benzema answered with an equalizer about 2 minutes later. Mbappe dribbled deep in Spain territory in transition. He lifted his head and slipped a pass ahead for Benzema on his left. Benzema tapped the ball right and ripped an 18-yard shot. The attempt bent around Simon as he dove left and found the far-post netting in the 66th minute.
France right wing Theo Hernandez received a secondary pass off a throw-in to set up the final score. The midfielder dribbled the ball up the left flank and slipped a through ball between defenders ahead for Mbappe.
Mbappe held the ball on his right and used his right foot to step from over the ball and get Simon off balance. He finished the play with a left-footed shot into the right side of the net.
France battles Kazakhstan in a World Cup qualifier at 2:45 p.m. EDT Nov. 13 in Saint-Denis, France. Spain faces Greece in a World Cup qualifier at 2:45 p.m. EDT Nov. 11 in Athens.