REPORT | France 2-0 Wales

Macclesfield Town
Posted:Fri 10 Nov 2017

From Our Man In Paris:

Forget the scoreline; in years to come the 2,000 plus travelling fans who made the short trip to Paris will be able to say that they were there when Ethan Ampadu made his full Welsh debut.

The Chelsea defensive-midfielder became the first player born this century to don the red shirt of Wales and looks set for a glittering career.

Completely unfazed by occasion, he showed a rare composure in one so young as he took his first steps on the international stage.

Sheffield United’s David Brooks was also handed his first senior cap and did enough to suggest that he too, together with the more established Ben Woodburn, will be pushing for a regular place in the first eleven.

The Stade de France is one of world football’s most iconic stadiums and one which barely 17 months ago came close to staging this fixture as the final of Euro 2016.

The irony of finally playing here will not have been lost on Chris Coleman and his charges, especially in the wake of missing out on the World Cup play-offs last month.

With Russia now but a distant dream, the Welsh manager has a big decision to make about his own future. With his contract due to end after the Panama game, the indications are that he might be prepared to carry on in the role which has made him a ‘national treasure’.

Should that be the case then he will certainly have a crop of talented youngsters to integrate into the squad over the course of the next year.

By his own admission, Coleman opted to go with experience against a France side including Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe, but the likes of Ben Woodburn, Ethan Ampadu and David Brooks all enjoyed half-an-hour of game time and seem set to start on Tuesday night.

Before a partisan home crowd France dominated possession in the early stages with the game’s first opening coming on seven minutes, when home captain Blaise Matuidi dragged a shot well clear of Wayne Hennessey’s left-hand upright.

Bayern Munich’s Corentin Tolisso then sliced wide after good approach play by Griezmann before Kylian Mbappe somehow saw a shot deflected on to the crossbar by the Crystal Palace keeper.

Despite a brief period of Welsh possession, it was the Griezmann who deservedly broke the deadlock on 17 minutes with a superbly controlled volley that underlined the all-round brilliance of the Athletico Madrid star.

Whilst France enjoyed the vast majority of the possession, Wales did finally forge a clear-cut chance after 37 minutes.

Joe Ledley’s claims for a penalty were waived away by the Portuguese referee, as the ball fell to an unmarked Chris Gunter at the back post but his low shot was easily smothered by Steve Mandanda.

Having got to the interval just one goal adrift, Wales almost gifted their opponents a second barely two minutes into the second stanza. Gunter’s blocked clearance fell to Olivier Giroud and Hennessey did well to tip his shot away for a corner.

With the pace and movement of Griezmann and Mbappe continually stretching the Welsh defence, the visitors somehow kept a foothold in the game.

Barely two minutes after the introduction of the teenage trio, Brooks, Woodward and Ampadu combined to show they are ready and willing to spearhead the next qualification campaign.

All there were involved in the build-up as Mandanda intuitively stuck out a boot to keep out a deflection off Aaron Ramsey before the Marseille custodian then parried Gunter’s low drive.

Frustratingly for Coleman, just as the visitors enjoyed their best spell of possession, the result was put beyond all doubt on 71 minutes when Giroud’s shot was deflected off James Chester.

More substitutions followed, and the game became stretched with chances for both sides. France hitting the woodwork twice before Tom Lawrence fired over the angle after good work by Brooks on the right wing.

However, this was a tantalising glimpse into the future for Wales and one which bodes well.

France: Mandanda, Jallet (Pavard 45), Koscielny, Umtiti, Kurzawa, Mbappe (Thauvin 84), Tolisso (N'Zonzi 45), Matuidi, Coman (Martial 73), Griezmann (Fekir 63), Giroud (Lacazette 73).
Subs: Areola, Varane, Rabiot, Digne, Sissoko, Kimpembe, Costil, N'Zonzi.

Wales: Hennessey, Chester, Williams, Davies (Woodburn 63), Gunter, King (Brooks 64), Allen, Ledley (Ampadu 64), Taylor, Ramsey, Vokes (Lawrence 83).
Subs: Maxwell, Ward, Evans, Edwards, Lockyer, Brooks, Bradshaw, Watkins, Hedges.

Referee: Jorge Sousa

 

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