France, Germany draw as new Nations League gets underway
Advertisement

France, Germany draw as new Nations League gets underway

International debutant Alphonse Areola produced a string of impressive saves as France kept Germany at bay in a 0-0 draw as the new UEFA Nations League tournament got underway.

The World Cup winners were on the back foot in the League A Group 1 opener as Joachim Loew's Germany got back to work after their disappointing first-round exit in Russia.

Stalemate: Germany's Leroy Sane (right) and France's N'Golo Kante challenge for the ball during their UEFA Nations League clash.

Stalemate: Germany's Leroy Sane (right) and France's N'Golo Kante challenge for the ball during their UEFA Nations League clash.Credit:AP

Germany dominated possession in the first half at the Allianz Arena in Munich, but France nearly went ahead when Manuel Neuer was forced into a smart save to deny Olivier Giroud.

It was one of few chances in a low-quality opening period, which started off on the wrong foot when Antonio Rudiger accidentally caught Benjamin Pavard on the neck with his studs.

Advertisement

The game burst into life after the break and Antoine Griezmann forced Neuer into another save, while Marco Reus was denied by Areola at the other end.

Mats Hummels saw a powerful effort beaten away by the France goalkeeper, while he also produced a stunning save to keep out Matthias Ginter's header from a corner.

Loading

"I think we learned the lessons from the World Cup," said Hummels. "We all had setbacks in our careers. We are used to having to stand up again."

In Cardiff, Wales thrashed Ireland 4-1, taking a sixth minute lead when Tom Lawrence scored before Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale doubled their lead with a superb bending strike from outside the area.

Aaron Ramsey netted the third with a low effort after being teed up by the excellent Ethan Ampadu before Connor Roberts bashed in the fourth after half-time.

Ireland pulled one back through Shaun Williams on a disappointing night for Martin O'Neill's side.

Roma striker Patrik Schick sent the Czech Republic ahead after four minutes against Ukraine but Yevheniy Konoplyanka levelled on the stroke of half-time.

Deep into stoppage time, Manchester City winger Oleksandr Zinchenko hit a last-gasp winner to give Ukraine a 2-1 win.

Second best: Martin O'Neill's Ireland were well beaten.

Second best: Martin O'Neill's Ireland were well beaten.Credit:AP

Stefan Johansen struck twice in the first half for Norway in a comfortable 2-0 victory over Cyprus, while Bozhidar Kraev's brace helped Bulgaria triumph 2-1 over Slovenia in Ljubljana.

In other results, Georgia beat Kazakhstan 2-0, Armenia had a 2-1 win over Liechtenstein, Latvia had a scoreless draw with Andorra and Macedonia defeated Gibraltar 2-0.

Loading

The Nations League, brainchild of European soccer governing body UEFA, aims to boost interest in internationals that are seen by clubs and fans as disruptive to domestic football.

Held every two years, it features all 55 of Europe's national teams divided into four divisions — Leagues A to D — that are themselves split into four groups.

Matches are played between September and November.

There were also a number of friendlies held overnight, with World Cup runners-up Croatia drawing 1-1 with Portugal, while the Netherlands came from behind to beat Peru 2-1.

Ivan Perisic, who scored in his side's 4-2 defeat to France in the World Cup final, handed Croatia the lead in Faro after a pinball scramble in the area.

However, veteran defender Pepe headed home in the 32nd minute as reigning European champions Portugal battled back to claim a draw in the absence of rested talisman Cristiano Ronaldo.

Pepe had double reason to celebrate because it was his 100th game for Portugal.

Elsewhere Filip Helander's own goal gave Austria the advantage over Sweden, with Bayern Munich defender David Alaba adding the second in a 2-0 win.

Agencies