The UEFA Nations League final kicked off at Milan’s San Siro stadium with two Atlético Madrid players searching for international glory. Koke and Spain, fresh off a win a semifinal win against Italy, looked to take down Antoine Griezmann and reigning world champions France.
The opening 20 minutes were cagey, with both teams looking to work their way into the match. Spain, with Koke on the bench, looked to jump on France early with high pressing and superior possession. This combination forced France to work hard with and without the ball.
The Spaniards found success early in wide areas, especially on the right side. Cesar Azpilicueta could be seen on multiple occasions connecting with the versatile Ferran Torres, who opened up space by taking players one on one. La Roja lofted several crosses into the box, but they were ineffective in creating any serious problems for Hugo Lloris in net.
Meanwhile, France looked to counter with speed, mainly through the likes of Griezmann, Karim Benzema, and Kylian Mbappé. This back-and-forth continued into halftime, with both sides unsuccessful in bringing anything to fruition despite occasional flashes.
Didier Deschamps’ men looked more aggressive on the ball in the second half, but it was Spain drawing first blood just after the hour.
France started off the sequence with a drive up the field. Former Atlético man Theo Hernández rocketed a shot off the crossbar and then the ground, and seconds later, Spain responded with a ball over the top to Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal, who beat Lloris in the bottom right corner.
But only two minutes later, Benzema received the ball just outside the Spanish 18-yard box. The Real Madrid forward cut inside, giving him just enough space away from Azpilicueta to curl the ball into the top right corner of the goal. France had an equalizer straight away.
With both teams awakened, the tempo and urgency increased. And in the 80th minute, Mbappé gave France the lead for good.
PSG’s superstar sprinted past FC Barcelona’s Éric García — who tried to cut out the pass but didn’t intercept it. Cool, calm, collected, and possibly offside, Mbappé did a stepover into open space and shot the ball into the back of the net.
Now with 10 minutes (and extra time) remaining, Spain piled on the artillery, and forced Lloris to make two huge saves to win the match.
Koke played the final 15 minutes, completing only eight passes and creating one chance. Griezmann exited in second half stoppage time after compiling three key passes and one shot attempt among his 37 touches.
France XI: Lloris, Koundé, Varane (Upamecano 43’), Kimpembe, Pavard (Dubois 80’), Tchovaméni, Pogba, Hernandez, Mbappe, Griezmann (Veretout 90’) , Benzema
Goals: Benzema 66’, Mbappe 80’
Spain XI: Simón, Azpilicueta, García, Laporte, Alonso, Gavi (Koke 75’), Busquets, Rodri (Fornals 84’), Torres (Merino 84’), Oyarzabal, Sarabia (Pino 61’)
Goal: Oyarzabal 64’