UEFA Nations League round-up: France frustrate Germany
Wales beat Republic of Ireland while Ukraine, Norway, Bulgaria win
Last Updated: 07/09/18 6:08am
Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola enjoyed a fantastic debut as World Cup winners France drew 0-0 with Germany in their UEFA Nations League Group A1 opener on Thursday.
The Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper denied Marco Reus, Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller in the second half before brilliantly saving from Matthias Ginter.
France failed to create a clear opening, with Antoine Griezmann having their best effort in the 64th minute when his 25-yard shot was saved by Manuel Neuer.
Germany: Neuer (6), Rudiger (6), Boateng (6), Hummels (6), Kimmich (6), Ginter (6), Goretzka (5), Kroos (6), Reus (6), Werner (6), Muller (5)
Subs: Gundogan (5), Sane (5)
France: Areola (8), Pavard (6), Varane (5), Umtiti (6), Hernandez (6), Pogba (6), Kante (5), Mbappe (7), Griezmann (5), Matuidi (5), Giorud (5)
Subs: Tolisso (5), Fekir (5)
Man of the match: Alphonse Areola
But the visitors managed to hold out to frustrate Germany, who should still be encouraged by elements of their performance after a disappointing summer when they were knocked out in the group stages of the World Cup.
France stuck with the same outfield players that played in the World Cup final while Germany made four changes, with Arsenal's Mesut Ozil missing after retiring from international duty and Manchester City's Leroy Sane on the bench.
There were few chances in a tight first half as France stuck to the formula that won them the World Cup in Russia.
After Antonio Rudiger escaped punishment for stepping on Benjamin Pavard's neck inside the opening five minutes, Germany went close as Timo Werner was denied by Areola, starting in place of injured Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, and Hummels headed over at the back post.
Neuer kept out a header from Olivier Giroud, who also flicked a shot across goal and just wide on the stroke of half-time.
Griezmann was twice denied by Neuer after the break, but Germany created a string of chances in the final 30 minutes.
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Reus saw a curling first-time shot pushed away by Areola before Hummels' fierce strike was kept out after a swift Germany break.
The France goalkeeper then tipped over Muller's shot and pulled off a superb diving stop to keep out a header from Ginter.
Elsewhere in the Nations League on Thursday, Wales thrashed Republic of Ireland 4-1 in League B while Ukraine won 2-1 against Czech Republic thanks to a last-gasp goal from Manchester City's Oleksandr Zinchenko.
In League C, Stefan Johansen scored twice as Norway won 2-0 against Cyprus and Bozhidar Kraev also netted both goals to give Bulgaria a 2-1 win in Slovenia.
Sergei Maliy's own goal helped Georgia secure a 2-0 win in Kazakhstan in League D as the hosts conceded twice inside five second-half minutes.
Midfielder Giorgi Chakvetadze opened the scoring in the early kick-off with the competition's first goal, a stunning long-range 69th-minute strike, and the points were secure when the unfortunate Maliy deflected the ball into his own net.
In the same group, Andorra battled out a creditable 0-0 draw in Latvia to open their account.
Skipper Henrikh Mkhitaryan missed a penalty as Armenia left it late to clinch a 2-1 victory over 10-man Liechtenstein in Group 4.
Benjamin Buchel saved the Arsenal man's 69th-minute spot-kick with the score at 1-1 after Sandro Wolfinger had cancelled out Marcos Pizzelli's opener, but Tigran Barseghyan struck with just 14 minutes remaining after Michele Polverino had been sent off.
There was no such drama for group rivals Macedonia as they won 2-0 in Gibraltar courtesy of first-half goals from Ivan Trickovski and Ezgjan Alioski.
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