France denied Euro 2024 qualifying clean sweep by determined Greece

By Sports Desk November 21, 2023

France’s hopes of ending their European Championship qualifying campaign with a 100 per cent record were denied as Didier Deschamps’ men were held to a 2-2 draw by Greece in Athens.

The visitors struck the woodwork twice in injury time, with Odysseas Vlachodimos tipping a Kylian Mbappe effort on to the crossbar as the play-off bound Greeks withstood a late surge.

Randal Kolo Muani had given France a half-time lead but a swift double from Anastasios Bakasetas and Fotis Ioannidis turned the game on its head before Youssouf Fofana fired France back level.

Deschamps’ men had gone into the game bulging with confidence in the wake of their record-breaking 14-0 win over Gibraltar at the weekend.

But it was quickly clear they would not find the sturdy Greek rearguard so accommodating and Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Vlachodimos dealt easily with early efforts from Ousmane Dembele and Theo Hernandez.

Antoine Griezmann came closer after 15 minutes with an effort that the Greek keeper turned round the post, but Greece fired a warning of their own just before the half-hour mark when Konstantinos Mavropanos headed just over.

Ioannidis also saw a half-chance go begging before Muani opened the scoring three minutes before the interval when he fired home from a tight angle.

With nothing to lose, Greece started the second half with freedom, Ioannidis blazing a chance over the bar before Bakasetas let fly from the edge of the box in the 56th minute to pull his side level.

Five minutes later Greece were in front when Ioannidis latched on to a fine cross from Dimitrios Giannoulis to make it 2-1 to Gus Poyet’s side.

Deschamps responded by bringing on big guns Mbappe and Kingsley Coman straight after the goal, but it was Fofana who hauled his side level with a superb long-range effort with 16 minutes left.

Coman thought he had grabbed a winner in stoppage time but his effort was ruled not to have crossed the line, before Mbappe was denied by heroics from Vlachodimos.

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