Didier Deschamps acknowledged Spain were "superior" as France suffered Euro 2024 elimination following their 2-1 semi-final defeat in Munich.

Les Bleus opened the scoring after just eight minutes through Randal Kolo Muani's header, though Lamine Yamal levelled with a long-range stunner, becoming the youngest scorer in major tournament history at the age of just 16 years and 362 days.

Dani Olmo seized on that momentum swing just four minutes later, dancing through the France defence before finishing past Mike Maignan as Jules Kounde was unable to clear on the line.

Spain held on to move into Sunday's final as France opened the scoring and lost for only the second time in a European Championship game, after a 3-2 defeat to the Netherlands in the 2000 group stages.

Defeat also marked the first time France have been eliminated at the semi-final stage of a major tournament since Euro 1996, though Deschamps admitted his side did not deserve to progress.

"Spain proved tonight that they are a very good team," Deschamps told French outlet TF1 shortly after the full-time whistle on Tuesday. 

"We were lucky enough to open the scoring, but they caused us difficulties because they were superior in their control. Tonight, they showed all their qualities.

"We were a little slow, perhaps a little less fresh. We didn't move [the ball] forward often enough and were slow in our passing."

France, in truth, had failed to live up to their tag as pre-tournament favourites, alongside England – who meet the Netherlands on Wednesday for a place in the final.

Les Bleus only scored their first non-penalty goal at Euro 2024 (excluding own goals) through Kolo Muani's opener, with their 87th shot from such situations.


Yet no team in Germany would have been able to cope with Roja winger Yamal for large parts, with the teenager scoring from 25 yards out to level after beating Adrien Rabiot with ease.

Yamal also became the youngest-ever player to feature in a semi-final at a major tournament, surpassing Brazil's Pele (aged 17 years and 244 days at the 1958 World Cup, against France).

Unsurprisingly, the Barcelona attacker was named as UEFA's Player of the Match for his dominant showing on the right flank.

"I am extremely happy to share this moment with the team, I am savouring the victory," Yamal said, as quoted by UEFA's official media channels.

Yamal will turn 17 on Saturday, the day before the final in Berlin.

Asked what he would like for his birthday, Yamal responded: "To win, win, win. It will be a joy to celebrate my birthday in Germany with the team."

Spain heading into Euro 2024 as "outsiders" instead of the pre-tournament favourites has aided La Roja, says Marc Cucurella ahead of Tuesday's semi-final against France.

Luis de la Fuente's side are looking to reach their fifth European Championship final, with only Germany playing in more (six), after remaining perfect through five games so far.

Spain needed a last-gasp Mikel Merino header for their 2-1 extra-time victory over hosts Germany in Friday's quarter-final, but Cucurella insists confidence continues to grow within the La Roja camp.

"Within football, there has long been respect for Spain, how we play and the players we have, but maybe coming in [to Euro 2024] as outsiders helped us," the Chelsea full-back said on Sunday. 

"We started with the confidence of having nothing to lose. Now that confidence has grown and we are in the key moment of the tournament.

"I knew we had a great team, which has been proven. We have fought so hard to be here, and now we need one last big effort. Two more steps."

De la Fuente's team will meet an out-of-sorts France in Munich for their last-four clash after Les Bleus scraped past Portugal on penalties in the quarter-final.

Didier Deschamps' men once again failed to find the net across 120 minutes of action in their last-eight goalless draw on Friday, with only four goals scored by either team in France's five Euro 2024 matches thus far.

Indeed, all 128 non-penalty shots have failed to be scored (86 for France, 42 for opponents), while they are the only team on record since 1980 to have more than 50 non-penalty shots at a Euros and fail to find the net with any of them.

Kylian Mbappe's form remains a concern for Deschamps, too, with the Real Madrid-bound forward scoring just one goal from 20 shots at this edition, a penalty against Poland in their final group game.

Rather than excitement around Mbappe, who has scored just once from 34 attempts at the European Championship overall, most of the focus revolves around Spanish wingers Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams.

"With the Spanish national team, danger can come from anywhere," France midfielder Youssouf Fofana said at his pre-match press conference.

"Nico Williams and Yamal have had a great season, but I expect them to lose on Tuesday. We have to stay as solid as we have been so far in defence."

As for the criticism over France's playing style, Fofana insists he has no problem, adding: "In the end, we're in the semi-finals."


Spain – Lamine Yamal

Yamal has created 14 chances at this tournament, the most by a Spaniard at a major tournament since Xavi en route to winning Euro 2012 (25).

The Barcelona winger's 14 chances created are also the most by a teenager at a major tournament that Opta has on record (since 1966 for World Cup, 1980 for Euros).

And the 16-year-old has three assists within that tally, too, with no Spanish player ever registering more at a single European Championship tournament.

France – Mike Maignan

Les Bleus have had their backs against the wall for large parts of this competition in Germany, placing a heavy burden on Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

The Frenchman has a save percentage of 94% at Euro 2024 the best of any goalkeeper to have played more than one game.

Indeed, it is the best by a goalkeeper at a Euros tournament since Iker Casillas for the Euro 2012 winners Spain (also 94%).


Spain appear the narrow favourites to reach the final, with La Roja winning in 90 minutes in 38.1% of pre-match simulations by the Opta supercomputer.

France are still afforded a 31.8% chance of victory, with the draw – sending the tie to extra time and possibly penalties – forecast in 30% of the same data-led simulations.

Yet Deschamps will be well aware of Spain's quality, given De la Fuente's team have won 15 of their 19 matches since the start of 2023 – their 79% win percentage is the best of any European nation in that period.

Spain are the only team to have won all five games at this tournament, though no side has ever gone six in a row in the competition's history, nor triumphed in six matches across a single edition.

If La Roja can achieve that unprecedented feat here, then a place in the final in Berlin awaits against either England or the Netherlands.


Spain – 38.2%

France – 31.8%

Draw – 30%

Xavi Simons saw a potential winner controversially disallowed as the spoils were shared in a 0-0 draw between the Netherlands and France in Group D at Euro 2024.

A VAR check led to the Dutchman's 69th-minute strike being chalked off for offside, stopping the Oranje from booking their place in the round of 16 with a game to spare.

Antoine Griezmann squandered a host of chances for France, who struggled in front of goal with Kylian Mbappe relegated to the bench due to a broken nose.

Both sides move onto four points, and after Austria's win over Poland earlier on Friday, it is all to play for between the top three on the final matchday, with Poland the first team to be officially eliminated from the tournament. 

The Netherlands came flying out of the blocks, with Jeremie Frimpong forcing a fingertip save from Mike Maignan with less than a minute on the clock.

France soon found their footing though, with Griezmann, wearing the armband in Mbappe's absence, failing to scramble it in from six yards after Adrien Rabiot's lay-off before he drilled another effort just wide of the post.

Maignan was required again when Cody Gakpo cut inside from left before whipping a firm shot across goal, as the goalkeeper got a strong hand to it.

Just before the half-hour mark, Marcus Thuram looked set to break the deadlock after beating the offside trap, but one-on-one with the goalkeeper, he sliced his effort over the crossbar.

After a slow start to the second half, France rallied on the hour mark, with Aurelien Tchouameni flashing a header over before Griezmann saw another glorious opportunity smothered by Bart Verbruggen at his near post.

Against the run of play, Simons thought he had given the Netherlands the lead by picking out the bottom-right corner after latching onto the rebound of Memphis Depay's saved shot, but Denzel Dumfries, in an offside position, was judged to be impeding the goalkeeper and the goal was ruled out after a lengthy VAR check.

Toothless France struggle without their talisman

All the pre-match talk centred on whether Mbappe would be fit to play after suffering a broken nose against Austria.

The answer: he was not. Instead, he started on the bench, with Marcus Thuram tasked with playing as the main forward in his absence.

Griezmann provided their foremost threat though, appearing in his 11th consecutive game at the Euros for France – Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (18) and Germany's Toni Kroos (13) are the only outfielders on longer such streaks for their nations.

It was a record-equalling appearance for the stand-in captain too, his 32nd at major tournaments, the most for a French outfielder along with Lilian Thuram.

However, the forward had four of France's five first-half shots, finishing with five overall, but failed to lead Les Bleus to a statement victory.

Still, France's wait for a win without Mbappe in their starting lineup goes on, as they have failed to come out on top in any of their last seven such matches (four draws, three defeats).

Netherlands smother Les Bleus

After losing both meetings in qualifying for Euro 2024 by an aggregate score of 6-1, the Netherlands were likely not too happy to come up against Les Bleus once more.

However, in the absence of Mbappe, who has scored six goals in five matches against the Dutch, the Netherlands were able to hold firm.

At the Euros, the Oranje have now avoided defeat in all three of their group-stage meetings with France (2000, 2008, 2024).

Defensively, they stood strong. Despite France having 13 shots, only three were on target as they created 1.4 expected goals (xG).

Virgil van Dijk led by example, making the most clearances (seven) of anybody on the pitch as the Netherlands protected their clean sheet.

Rafael Leao is determined to silence his critics when AC Milan seek to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final against Roma.

Leao came in for criticism after last week’s first match, but showed a much better version of himself as Milan fought back from two goals down to take a 3-3 draw at relegation-battling Sassuolo on Sunday.

The 24-year-old forward, who scored Milan’s first goal, recognises he needs to bring more consistency to his game.

“I hope to help my team,” Leao told Milan TV.

“If I don’t score a goal, I hope to play well and win. This is the most important thing, to move forward.

“After the first leg, where I didn’t do very well, I was disappointed and with Sassuolo I wanted to give the right answer. If I make a mistake, I always try to come back even stronger, to learn from my mistakes.

“I found the joy of doing well and helping my team-mates. I want to play better now. We know the comeback is possible. We have to start strong, try to score in the first few minutes and then play like a final.”

Goalkeeper Mike Maignan is expected to return in goal after sitting out Sunday’s match as a precaution, but Simon Kjaer is a doubt after suffering a muscle injury in that match. Both he and fellow defender Pierre Kalulu missed training on Wednesday.

Gianluca Mancini struck in the 17th minute as Roma took an impressive 1-0 victory at the San Siro last week, carrying on their good form since Daniele De Rossi replaced Jose Mourinho in the hotseat.

The 2022 Europa Conference League champions came ever so close to making it back-to-back titles after they were defeated on penalties in last year’s Europa League showpiece and are 90 minutes away from another semi-final.

But De Rossi knows AC Milan are far from beaten as they prepare for the second leg in Rome.

As quoted on romapress.net, he said: “Milan? They will fight with everything they have. This is their last resort, they want to win and achieve one of their objectives for the season. It will be difficult.

“There are characteristics of the opponent that must always be respected and you need to think about the opponent’s coach’s moves. The first leg with Milan was quite balanced, perhaps it went a little better for us. Milan won’t change their tactics too much, but we must not overthink our own gameplan.

“We will prepare the match to win it, to try to score a goal which would be a blow for them even if it might not be decisive.

“Milan are a very strong team, they are better than us, but in the first leg we showed that we are not that much inferior and I told my team that we can play for it. We are one step away from an important milestone such as a European semi-final.”

Gianluca Mancini’s first-half header was enough to give Roma a slim lead in their Europa League quarter-final tie with rivals Roma.

Milan had previously won both Serie A clashes between the two sides this season but it is Roma who take a 1-0 lead into the second leg at the Stadio Olimpico next week.

Last season’s beaten Europa League finalists will fancy their chances of reaching a semi-final against either West Ham or Bayer Leverkusen after edging to victory at the San Siro.

The visitors started the quicker of the two teams but it was Milan midfielder Tijjani Reijnders who had the first meaningful effort of the contest as he forced a decent save out of Mile Svilar.

At the other end, Mike Maignan made a terrific stop to keep out a deflected Stephan El Shaarawy strike, although Romelu Lukaku appeared offside in the build-up.

However, Roma would take the lead from the resulting corner as Mancini slipped his defender to head in Pablo Dybala’s set-piece.

Having scored the winning goal in the derby clash with Lazio last week, the Italy defender is proving a handful at the other end of the pitch.

Milan went in search of a leveller and Olivier Giroud came close only to see two quick-fire efforts both cleared off the line by Lukaku.

An acrobatic overhead kick from Rafael Leao was off-target with Reijnders again testing Svilar before the break.

The Netherlands midfielder was again thwarted by Svilar in the Roma goal soon after the interval.

Roma skipper Lorenzo Pellegrini flashed a shot wide of the target on the hour-mark, with Bryan Cristante following suit shortly after.

Theo Hernandez and Reijnders came close for Milan as they pushed for a leveller, Svilar on hand to tip a cross-cum-shot from Yacine Adli onto the crossbar.

The hosts’ goal never came as Giroud also hit the woodwork with a marvellous late chance.

Evangelos Marinakis believes Premier League chief executive Richard Masters did not speak appropriately when appearing to describe Nottingham Forest and Everton as “small clubs” at a parliamentary hearing.

Masters, under questioning at the Culture, Media and Sport Committee two weeks ago, was criticised after seeking to justify the league’s profit and sustainability rules to MPs.

Asked whether “big clubs” were treated differently under the rules, with deliberation over the 115 charges levelled against Premier League champions Manchester City ongoing, Masters said: “The standard directions (on PSR) are for everybody, they’re not just for the small clubs.”

Forest owner Marinakis responded to those comments at the racial and gender equity in European football conference being hosted by his club.

“I think that was not appropriate,” Marinakis said. “I think it was a bit careless. I think that Nottingham Forest and Everton are very big clubs and maybe are bigger than the ones that we consider today big clubs.

“Big team and small teams is maybe not an appropriate expression.”

At the same conference Thierry Henry, Lilian Thuram, Viv Anderson and Anthony Elanga joined other prominent footballers in signing a pledge to committing themselves to publicly push for racial equality in football.

The statement comes after players and Harvard academics discussed how to further anti-discriminatory aims and references recent cases of racist abuse faced by black professionals involving AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan and Coventry midfielder Kasey Palmer.

Henry said the onus must be put on to football’s governing bodies to make change, saying: “Sometimes you have the sense that the players on the field are alone.”

Four individuals who racially abused AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan during a Serie A match at the weekend have been given five-year stadium bans by Italian police.

AC Milan players briefly left the pitch during their match away to Udinese on January 20 after alerting referee Fabio Maresca to the abuse being directed at their goalkeeper.

On Wednesday, the office of Udine police commissioner Alfredo D’Agostino announced that four people had been identified using security cameras from the stadium.

“There are four people, three men and one woman, aged between 32 and 45, against whom the police commissioner of Udine has issued banning orders for the duration of five years,” a statement said.

A five-year ban is the maximum penalty that can be handed to first-time offenders for racist abuse at football matches in Italy.

Udinese announced on Monday that one fan had been banned for life over the incident, and the club had said that any other offenders who were identified would face the same penalty.

On Tuesday, the club were ordered to play one match behind closed doors by Serie A’s sports judge, Gerardo Mastrandrea.

That judgement said the one-match stadium closure was the minimum sanction which could have been imposed, and was chosen to reflect Udinese’s active stance and willingness right from the start to identify those responsible.

Speaking after the game, which restarted after a delay of around 10 minutes, Maignan told Milan TV: “I heard them making monkey noises.

“After it happened a second time, I went to the dugout to inform them of what had happened behind the goal.

“This shouldn’t exist in the world of football, but unfortunately for many years this is a recurrence. We all have to react, we must do something because you can’t play like this.”

Udinese have been ordered to play one match behind closed doors after AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan was racially abused during a Serie A match on Saturday.

The sanction has been imposed by the league’s sports judge, Gerardo Mastrandrea.

The judgement states the one-match stadium closure was the minimum sanction which could have been imposed, and was chosen to reflect Udinese’s active stance and willingness right from the start to identify those responsible.

The club announced on Monday they had banned a supporter for life for racially abusing Maignan.

Udinese have banned for life a supporter found to have used discriminatory behaviour towards AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

The Serie A club, which are working to track down further offenders, said the sanction against the individual identified by staff and police using security cameras at the Bluenergy Stadium would take immediate effect.

An investigation was launched after France international Maignan left the pitch during the first half of Saturday’s 3-2 win in Udine, having apparently indicated to referee Fabio Maresca that he had heard racist abuse from the crowd.

A statement from Udinese said: “In a joint effort with the local police authorities and utilising the Bluenergy Stadium security cameras, Udinese Calcio has identified the first individual responsible for discriminatory behaviour towards AC Milan player Mike Maignan.

“This person will face a lifetime ban from attending any Udinese Calcio matches. This ban is effective immediately.

“We believe that such strong measures are necessary to send a clear message that racism has no place in football or society. Udinese Calcio stands firmly against any form of discrimination and we are determined to create an inclusive and respectful environment within our football community.

“We thank the authorities for their cooperation and together we will continue to work tirelessly in order to identify and punish other individuals who were involved in this incident and that tarnish the sporting ethics of the club, the region, the city of Udine and a fan base that has always been a model of integration and respect.

“We want to ensure that our stadium remains a space where everyone, regardless of their ethnicity, background, culture, and language is able to enjoy the beautiful game without fear of discrimination.

“Udinese Calcio calls on all football stakeholders to unite in the fight against racism and discrimination, fostering an environment that celebrates diversity and promotes inclusion.”

Speaking after the game, which restarted after a delay of around 10 minutes, Maignan told Milan TV: “I heard them making monkey noises. After it happened a second time, I went to the dugout to inform them of what had happened behind the goal.

“This shouldn’t exist in the world of football, but unfortunately for many years this is a recurrence. We all have to react, we must do something because you can’t play like this.”

The incident in Italy came on the same day that Coventry midfielder Kasey Palmer reported he had been abused by Sheffield Wednesday supporters in his team’s Championship fixture at Hillsborough, prompting claims from Professional Footballers’ Association chair Omar Beckles that players do not believe the football authorities have put in place strong enough deterrents to combat racism.

Beckles said: “Our members want to see real, consistent and significant consequences for racist abuse, both for the individuals who are responsible and for clubs who fail to get a grip of the issue within their stadiums.

“The reality is that players don’t believe this is happening. The responsibility for what happens next lies with the authorities.”

Beckles said the PFA had been working closely with referees’ body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) to give insights from a player’s perspective on protocols for dealing with racist incidents.

He added: “We’ve encouraged players, when they are aware of racial abuse, to take control of the situation by delaying restarts, free-kicks, and throw-ins.

“A stoppage in play – however long it takes – forces a response. It creates a window to alert match officials and gives the best chance of identifying those responsible.

“However, without action, the protocols are useless.”

Speaking specifically about Palmer’s experience, Beckles said: “Kasey Palmer deserves to be commended for his exemplary behaviour and measured response in an extremely challenging situation.

“Those responsible for this incident were recorded and they must be identified. They should face criminal charges and a ban from football.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has suggested clubs whose fans are guilty of such abuse be subject to automatic forfeits.

AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan said “something must be done” about racial abuse in football after walking off the pitch during a Serie A match at Udinese.

The 28-year-old France international and his team-mates walked off the pitch during the first half on Saturday, Maignan apparently indicating to referee Fabio Marescan he had heard the abuse from the crowd at the Stadio Friuli.

“I heard them making monkey noises,” Maignan told Milan TV.

“After it happened a second time, I went to the dugout to inform them of what had happened behind the goal.

“This shouldn’t exist in the world of football, but unfortunately for many years this is a recurrence.

“We all have to react, we must do something because you can’t play like this.”

He continued: “We accept the boos because that’s how it is away from home, but this issue of racism must not reach this level.

“With all the cameras present and sanctions for these things, something must be done to change things.”

Once play resumed after a short break, Milan won 3-2 with substitute Noah Okafor grabbing the winner in added time.

Maignan received support on social media after the match, Milan posting on X, formerly Twitter: “There is absolutely no place in our game for racism: we are appalled. We are with you, Mike.”

Inter, leaders of Serie A, were quick to reply to the post in support of their city rivals.

The Nerazzurri added on X: “We are brothers of the world, against all forms of discrimination. By your side.”

The official account of the league, @SerieA, added: “The league condemns all forms of racism.”

France striker Kylian Mbappe said “enough is enough” as he posted a message of support to Maignan on X.

He said: “You are very far from being alone Mike Maignan. We are all with you.

“Still the same problems and still NO solution. Enough is enough. NO TO RACISM.”

Former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright applauded the “solidarity” in the Milan side and urged teams to “keep walking off” when they hear abuse and called for stronger sanctions.

He wrote on X: “We did ‘playing through it’ and nothing has changed. Points deductions needed, the fines are pointless.”

AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan is focused on winning more silverware ahead of the Coppa Italia quarter-final against Atalanta.

Maignan’s first season at the San Siro in 2021-22 ended with Milan winning their first Scudetto for 11 years.

But there was no sequel to Serie A glory last term as Milan finished the campaign empty-handed.

France international Maignan, who arrived in the summer of 2021 from Lille to replace Gianluigi Donnarumma, is determined to savour that winning feeling again.

“The atmosphere during the parade with all the fans, when we paraded through the city on the bus, was an extraordinary and unique moment,” Maignan told GQ Italia magazine about Milan’s 2022 title celebrations.

“At Milan I found incredible team-mates and fans. A family. Here I would like to win as many titles as possible.

“I don’t feel like a spectacular goalkeeper. I try to do things in the simplest way possible.

“My philosophy, also written on my gloves and boots, is ‘foi discipline travail patiente et humilite’.

“It means ‘faith, discipline, work, patience and humility’. This is my daily mentality.”

Milan are in a rich vein of form heading into the San Siro tie with Atalanta.

The last six games in all competitions for Stefano Pioli’s side have produced five wins and a draw.

Ivorian teenage Chaka Traore has scored in the last two games, wins over Cagliari and Empoli, as the 19-year-old has stepped up with Nigeria striker Samuel Chukwueze away on Africa Cup of Nations duty and Noah Okafor sidelined by injury.

Filippo Terracciano, the 20-year-old defender who this week signed from Hellas Verona on a four-and-a-half-year deal, said: “I noticed that many youngsters have been getting opportunities.

“I’ve been pleased to see many of them play and I hope to be able to play with them too.”

Atalanta were the last side to beat Milan on December 9 when Colombia striker Luis Muriel struck a 90th-minute winner in a 3-2 victory for the Bergamo side.

“Milan are third in the standings and at the moment they are strong at home,” said Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini.

“But we won against them a month ago and this can give us confidence to do it again.

“Football is perhaps the only sport where there is also a draw, but someone will have to come out on top here.

“Taking the Scudetto and the Europa League as unlikely, the Coppa Italia is the most attainable trophy for us.”

AC Milan moved to the top of Serie A with a 1-0 win at Genoa that saw Christian Pulisic score late on before both sides had their goalkeepers sent off in stoppage time.

After substitute Pulisic broke the deadlock by firing home in the 87th minute, the Rossoneri were then reduced to 10 men in the eighth minute of time added on when Mike Maignan was dismissed.

Pulisic’s fellow substitute Olivier Giroud took over from Maignan in goal, and saw the Milan bar rattled moments later – before the drama continued with Genoa keeper Josep Martinez being shown a second yellow card.

With Giroud then making a save in the final few moments, Milan saw out the victory as they managed to take maximum advantage of Inter Milan being held 2-2 at home by Bologna earlier in the day.

Securing a fourth successive league victory and eighth in nine Serie A games, Stefano Pioli’s went two points clear as they replaced Inter at the summit.

Pioli made five changes to his starting line-up from the 0-0 Champions League draw at Borussia Dortmund, including replacing the front three of Giroud, Pulisic and Rafael Leao with Luka Jovic, Samuel Chukwueze and Noah Okafor.

Two of that trio brought in almost combined for an early goal, with Chukwueze lofting the ball forward and Okafor just unable to finish as Martinez grabbed it.

The hosts then appealed for a penalty when Johan Vasquez went down in a tangle with Alessandro Florenzi but nothing was given.

A spell of Milan pressure around the quarter-hour mark saw Martinez deal with a shot from Florenzi and then block Tijjani Reijnders’ strike.

Florenzi subsequently got himself in the way of a Vasquez shot, before Theo Fernandez and Florenzi hit drives off-target.

After Pioli opted to bring on Pulisic and Leao for Chukwueze and Okafor at the interval, Milan continued to be frustrated in their search for a breakthrough early in the second half, struggling to fashion much in attack.

Leao then saw Martinez make a fine save to tip his bouncing header over the bar in the 65th minute, shortly before Giroud was introduced to the fray.

Genoa then threatened to grab the lead as Radu Dragusin’s shot deflected off Reijnders, with Maignan doing well to turn it around the post, and substitute Caleb Ekuban headed over.

It looked as if Milan would miss their opportunity to replace Inter at the top, but Pulisic then controlled a Yunus Musah delivery, turned and fired in, the effort standing after a VAR check for handball.

That proved only the start of a dramatic finale as stoppage time saw Maignan given a red card, via VAR, for clattering Ekuban, Giroud don the gloves, and the resulting free-kick by Albert Gudmundsson diverting off Fikayo Tomori and onto the Milan bar.

Martinez then fouled Musah and was sent off himself, before Giroud came out to bat the ball away from George Puscas as Milan emerged with all three points.

Didier Deschamps says Antoine Griezmann's disappointment at being overlooked as France captain for Kylian Mbappe "lasted two minutes".

It actually took less than two minutes for Mbappe to provide an assist for Griezmann to set France on their way to a 4-0 win against the Netherlands on Friday to make a strong start to their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign at the Stade de France.

Deschamps had announced Mbappe – who also scored twice after Dayot Upamecano had found the net – as his new captain ahead of Griezmann, but said at a post-match press conference that there are no issues between the two.

"Fortunately, I don't know what is said and written. The two get along well, they work well and they have the same objective of seeing the French team perform well," he said. 

"Antoine's disappointment lasted two minutes. There is not the slightest problem, like the whole group. Everyone gave off positive vibes."

Mbappe completed the scoring in the 88th minute, though the Netherlands won a penalty in stoppage time, only for Mike Maignan to save from Memphis Depay.

While Mbappe replaced Hugo Lloris as captain after his retirement, Maignan was playing his first game since being confirmed as Lloris' replacement as France's new first-choice goalkeeper, and Deschamps was in no doubt about the decision.

"It's Mike. I didn't have to ask myself the question," he said. "He was injured but whether it was his qualities as a goalkeeper or his mentality... total confidence. It went very well for him. Mike has everything to take over [from Lloris]."

France had a 3-0 lead after just 21 minutes, having not led so early in a game since December 1953 when they beat Luxembourg 8-0, and had a 2-0 lead by the 10th minute.

"I don't know [if it was a perfect evening], but [it was] a very nice evening," Deschamps said. "The start was very good, efficient... We managed in the second half while continuing to be dangerous. That Mike stopped this penalty at the end ended the evening well."

Deschamps also said there could be changes for Monday's second Group B game away at the Republic of Ireland, adding: "It will be another fight for us to fight."

Didier Deschamps insisted pleasing Kylian Mbappe played no part in his decision to make the Paris Saint-Germain star France captain.

Hugo Lloris' retirement vacated the France captaincy, with Mbappe named as the new skipper earlier this week ahead of Euro 2024 qualifiers against the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland.

Mbappe revealed on Thursday that Antoine Griezmann, one of France's longest-serving players, was disappointed by the decision, though Deschamps refuted the suggestion he made the call to appease the 24-year-old, who won the Golden Boot at last year's World Cup.

"It's not a choice to make him happy, but because I am convinced that he has all the qualities to do so," Deschamps said in a press conference.

"I'm not going to go into details. You know how it went chronologically. I made the decision on Monday evening. Kylian has been used to being in this group for a while.

"He won't be alone. The most important thing is that it's not an extra burden for Kylian."


Indeed, Deschamps has no concerns that becoming captain will be too much responsibility for Mbappe, who has scored 31 goals in 33 games for PSG this season.

"Being captain of the France team is a responsibility, but Kylian, when he is on the pitch, he thinks about what he has to do on the pitch," Deschamps continued.

"It comes naturally. There is no advice to give to him, Kylian knows."

When asked if Mbappe would have to become less selfish or alter his game as captain, Deschamps added: "That a striker can create individual actions, that's part of the role of a striker. It's not selfishness. He doesn't have to change."

Lloris' retirement has also opened an opportunity for a new goalkeeper to confirm themselves as number one.

While Alphonse Areola and Lens' Brice Samba – one of the best-performing goalkeepers in Ligue 1 this term – have been included in Deschamps' squad, Mike Maignan is Lloris' heir apparent.

"Mike is used to it, he has already played [France] matches," Deschamps said. "He cannot replace Hugo's experience overnight.

"He has overcome his injury problems. I don't have the slightest doubt, I have total confidence in him. He has everything to be at this level."

Stefano Pioli has confirmed Mike Maignan will make his first appearance since September when Milan host Atalanta on Sunday, saying the goalkeeper has resembled a "lion in a cage" while out injured.

Maignan has been out since suffering a calf injury in France's 2-0 Nations League win over Austria on September 22, missing Les Bleus' run to the World Cup final in Qatar as well as a large portion of Milan's campaign. 

Ciprian Tatarusanu has made 16 league starts as Milan's stand-in goalkeeper this season, and the Romanian made several key saves in last week's hard-fought 1-0 win at Monza. 

However, Pioli is excited by the return of a goalkeeper he believes was Serie A's finest last season, with Maignan set to start against fellow top-four contenders Atalanta at San Siro.

"Mike will play," Pioli said at Saturday's pre-match press conference.

"Tata did his duty fully. He struggled in the beginning because he hadn't played for a long time, then he found rhythm and made a good contribution. He hasn't been very well lately. 

"Mike has been a lion in a cage, he's doing well and is very motivated, he will certainly give us a great contribution. He was the best goalkeeper last season and he gives us a lot.

"However, he is a player who hasn't played for five months. He will need some time, but we are expecting a lot and I am very happy with his return."

Maignan kept 17 clean sheets in 32 league games as Milan won the Scudetto last season – more than any other Serie A goalkeeper.

Meanwhile, the 27-year-old's save percentage of 79.41 was only bettered by one goalkeeper to make at least 10 appearances in Serie A last term – Torino's Etrit Berisha with 80.49 per cent.

Maignan is not the only Milan star returning from a lengthy period on the sidelines, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic being an unused substitute on two occasions this month as he awaits his first outing since undergoing anterior cruciate ligament surgery. 

Asked whether the 41-year-old's long-awaited comeback could arrive on Sunday, Pioli said: "It could, the first call I made with him was to get him back with the group against Torino.

"Ibra is getting better and better. He knows how much he worked and suffered to be available again. Now he's available, he's ready to play."

Milan have won their last three matches across all competitions, with each victory coming via a 1-0 scoreline. 

The Rossoneri are yet to win four consecutive games at any point this season, while they have not posted four successive victories without conceding since February 2018 (a run of five).

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