France boss Didier Deschamps praised his side's 'quality and character' after Kylian Mbappé struck late to clinch a 2-1 UEFA Nations League win over Croatia in Zagreb on Wednesday. France remain co-leaders in Group 3 alongside Portugal on ten points.
France just love playing Croatia - the side they beat 4-2 to lift the World Cup in 2018 - and made it three in a row against the Balkan outfit in Zagreb on Wednesday night.
Under-fire forward Antoine Griezmann opened Les Bleus' account with an emphatic left-footed half-volley that crashed in off the underside of the bar (08'). Shortly after wards, PSG superstar Kylian Mbappé spurned a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 as he worked a superb one-two with strike partner Anthony Martial (15'), and Croatia capitalised just after the hour-mark.
'We did the right thing'
Benefiting from some fine work from Luka Modric, captain Nikola Vlasic capitalised on Croatia's improved second-half display by lashing home to make it 1-1. However, Mbappé popped up - as is his wont - to blast home Everton left-back Lucas Digne's first-time cross (79'), and with captain Hugo Lloris making a couple of crucial saves in the dying minutes, Les Bleus held out for the 2-1 victory that leaves them undefeated and in co-top spot in Group 3 after four matches.
"It's difficult for everyone. We knew we were going to have a battle to fight tonight. It's a pity we didn't manage to score the second goal with Kylian's chance in the first half," said Deschamps after match. "Croatia came back with better intentions after some changes. We did the right thing in the second half."
'The quality and the character'
The result made it an unbeaten two out of three for France during this international window, with a 7-1 over Ukraine and the 0-0 draw with Portugal, and Deschamps was very pleased to have been able to hand some game time around while keeping the results coming.
"Playing this many matches in quick succession is tough for the players and that's why I rotated the squad, but this has been a great time for all the lads - and we capped it with a victory," he explained. "This team has always had character. Just because we won a title in 2018 doesn't mean we can win matches just by snapping our fingers. That we didn't manage to score against Portugal had a lot to do with how good Portugal are. It was a tough contest even though we made an excellent start to the match. The quality and the character are there and I am very happy with this squad."