2021 UEFA Nations League winners France were on the receiving end of a shock result against Denmark as they lost 2-1 in the opening game of their 2022 Nations League campaign at the Stade de France in Paris.
Back at the stadium in which he won his fifth UEFA Champions League title only a week ago, France striker Karim Benzema showed why many see him as the frontrunner for this year’s Ballon d’Or by opening the scoring in majestic style six minutes into the second half. The veteran striker played a pass to RB Leipzig hotshot Christopher Nkunku, who flicked the ball back into his path with one touch. Benzema went on to dance past two defenders in the box before slotting an effort into the bottom corner.
Denmark manager Kasper Hjulmand turned to his bench on the hour mark, introducing striker Andreas Cornelius for the ineffectual Kasper Dolberg in what proved to be a genius move. Cornelius needed only eight minutes on the pitch to level the scores for his side after a sublime pass from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg found him in acres of space in the French 18-yard area, and the Trabzonspor man sidefooted the ball past Hugo Lloris.
Twenty minutes later, the same man stunned the Stade de France into silence as he outmuscled two French defenders before crashing an effort into the roof of the net from a tight angle to give his side a remarkable away win in their 2022 UEFA Nations League A Group 1 opener.
Elsewhere, 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia were thrashed 3-0 at home by Austria in Ralf Rangnick’s first game in charge of the side in their Group 1 opener.
Goals from former West Ham star Marko Arnautovic, Michael Gregoritsch, and Marcel Sabitzer were all the Austrians needed to down their Croatian counterparts in Osijek.
The former number one ranked side Belgium were at the receiving end of a 4-1 humbling in front of their own fans in their UEFA Nations League A Group 4 encounter.
The Dutch went in front after 40 minutes, with Frenkie De Jong feeding Steven Bergwijn to fire an effort past Simon Mignolet in the Belgium goal. They pressed their advantage in the second half and scored three times in the space of 15 minutes to end the contest. Memphis Depay scored his side’s second after 51 minutes before Denzel Dumfries added a third 10 minutes later. Depay completed his brace in the 65th minute before Michy Batshuayi scored a consolation goal for the home side in added time.