As world champions, Kylian Mbappe shone. France beat Austria despite injuries and off-field issues on Thursday, while the Netherlands won in Poland to move closer to the UEFA Nations League finals next year.

France’s preparations for their World Cup defence in Qatar in November and December have been marred by fitness issues involving a number of key players, as well as other concerns, but Les Bleus did not appear distracted as they defeated Austria 2-0 in Paris.

“We did what we needed to do to win, creating many chances and controlling the game,” France coach Didier Deschamps said.

“There are many positives to take away from the game.”

Injuries had sidelined Deschamps’ entire squad, including goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris, midfield duo N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba, and Karim Benzema.

Pogba has also made headlines after filing a complaint with Italian prosecutors alleging that he was the target of a blackmail plot worth €13 million ($13 million).

Mathias, his brother, is one of five people charged and detained in the case.

Meanwhile, in a dispute with the French Football Federation over image rights, Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe refused to participate in a photo shoot this week.

In an apparent nod to that row, Mbappe celebrated his goal by imitating a photographer.

Giroud, who is just eight days shy of his 36th birthday, is France’s oldest goal-scorer.

The result, which came exactly two months before France’s World Cup defence against Australia in Qatar, also allowed France to avoid relegation from the top tier of the Nations League, a competition they won just last year.

Deschamps’ team must win their final Group A1 game away in Denmark on Sunday to avoid relegation, while qualification for the four-team finals in June is already out of reach.

Croatia defeats Denmark

Croatia, the 2018 World Cup runner-up, is on track to win the group after defeating Denmark 2-1 in Zagreb.

The hosts’ opener in the 49th minute was cancelled out by a magnificent Christian Eriksen strike in the 77th minute.

Croatia’s winner, however, came just two minutes later through Lovro Majer.

Croatia leads Denmark by a point before travelling to Vienna to face Austria on Sunday.

Meanwhile, after a 2-0 win away to Robert Lewandowski’s Poland in Warsaw, the Netherlands are well placed to advance to the finals from Group A4.

Cody Gakpo finished off a superb move with a Denzel Dumfries cross to put the Dutch ahead early on, and Steven Bergwijn made it 2-0 on the hour mark after a one-two with Vincent Janssen.

“It was a significant test for us.” “I am very pleased with how we played,” Dutch coach Louis van Gaal said.

Belgium defeated Wales.

Competitors in the group Belgium defeated Wales 2-1 in Brussels, with Kevin De Bruyne and Michy Batshuayi scoring in the first half before Kieffer Moore equalised.

The Netherlands leads Belgium by three points heading into Sunday’s meeting in Amsterdam.

However, after winning 4-1 in Belgium in their previous meeting, Van Gaal’s side would be able to qualify for the four-team finals with a two-goal defeat.

Wales, on the other hand, must now beat Poland in Cardiff on Sunday to stay in League A. Wales, who did not start Gareth Bale, must now beat Poland in Cardiff on Sunday to stay in League A.

Spain and Hungary lead the other two League A groups before the action resumes on Friday with Germany hosting the Hungarians and England hosting Italy in Milan.

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