Stockholm – Kylian Mbappe scored the winning goal as France earned a scrappy 1-0 win at Sweden in the Nations League on Saturday.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker’s 14th international goal came in the 41st minute but it could have been more comfortable for France, only for Antoine Griezmann to fluff a penalty right at the end. It was Griezmann’s third straight penalty miss for France.
Mbappe cut in from the left and, after initially being tackled, he got the ball back off Kristoffer Olsson, feinted, and then curled the ball inside the post.
“It was a tough match and we fought hard. It wasn’t easy … it could be better in the future,” Mbappe said. “The most important thing is the result.”
It was an accomplished finish from Mbappe, following his glaring missed chance in PSG’s 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League final on Aug. 23.
France coach Didier Deschamps handed a debut to 21-year-old Leipzig center half Dayot Upamecano and recalled Adrien Rabiot to midfield, after a long spell out of the side following his refusal to be on the reserve list for the 2018 World Cup.
Chances were scarce in the first half but veteran Sweden striker Marcus Berg almost broke through late on, only for France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to deny him by rushing off his line. Moments later, Sweden ‘keeper Robin Olsen was picking the ball out of the net.
“It was difficult for us, but for them as well,” Deschamps said. “We could have done a bit better going forward.”
Still, France was in control of the second half, with Mbappe and Barcelona’s Griezmann wasting good chances before Lloris punched away a late effort from the lively Emil Forsberg.
Griezmann then blazed a poor penalty over the bar after substitute Anthony Martial was fouled.
France hosts Croatia at Stade de France on Tuesday in a repeat of the World Cup final two years ago, which France won 4-2 with Mbappe among the scorers.
In the group’s other game, Croatia lost 4-1 at defending Nations League champion Portugal.
Portugal hit the post three times before João Cancelo’s opener shortly before the break.