Mercurial Mbappe saves blushes as French attack falters again

Mercurial Mbappe saves blushes as French attack falters again

Hungary fans inside the stadium before the match between Hungary and France on Saturday. (Reuters photo)
Hungary fans inside the stadium before the match between Hungary and France on Saturday. (Reuters photo)

BUDAPEST: France had to rely on the persistence of Kylian Mbappe to snatch a 1-1 draw against Hungary in a pulsating Euro 2020 group clash at the Puskas Stadium on Saturday as their attack once again failed to fire in front of an fervent crowd of 65,000.

For all his skill and trickery, Mbappe's creation of the French equaliser initially owed more to heart and strength as he chased down a long ball and fired it across the goal, where Antoine Griezmann was on hand to fire home as Hungary failed to clear.

Despite their dominance in their Group F opener against Germany, it took an own goal from Mats Hummels to help France to a 1-0 win as they managed only four attempts on goal in the whole game, with only one of them on target.

Mbappe topped that total by himself against Hungary, manufacturing six shots for himself and creating two other chances, including Griezmann's equaliser.

In total the French managed 16 attempts against Hungary, but only four were on target.

With his mesmeric skill and tireless industry, the 22-year-old Mbappe stood in sharp contrast to Griezmann and Karim Benzema, with the latter seeming to compete with Mbappe for the same spaces between the Hungarian defence and their midfield.

When Mbappe's low ball came in for the equaliser, Benzema was ahead of the play and hidden behind two defenders and he almost got in the way of Griezmann's goal-bound shot.

The introduction of Ousmane Dembele for Adrien Rabiot in the 57th minute gave France an added attacking dimension down the right, and he hit the outside of a post with a shot two minutes after coming on.

But, typical of France's poor luck in attack, he later limped off injured, replaced by Thomas Lemar three minutes from time.

On one of the few occasions Mbappe was able to get himself into a central position, he quickly engineered a snap shot that was saved by Peter Gulacsi, illustrating the threat he could have posed had Benzema not been the focal point of the attack.

With the rest of the France team contributing little, the tiring Hungarians were lifted by the fanatical crowd and shifted their focus to blocking all paths to Mbappe, forcing him out to the wings to get on the ball.

The tactic worked and they were able to hold on for a famous draw to leave world champions France questioning whether or not they have the requisite firepower to add a European crown to their trophy cabinet.

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