Austria 0-1 France: Kylian Mbappe forced off injured as Euro 2024 favourites edge tense opener

Bloodied: Kylian Mbappe suffered a gruesome facial injury as France beat Austria (AP)
Bloodied: Kylian Mbappe suffered a gruesome facial injury as France beat Austria (AP)

Kylian Mbappe was forced off injured as France followed fellow tournament co-favourites England by making a winning but nervy start to their Euro 2024 campaign against Austria.

The Les Bleus captain and talisman was replaced late on in Monday night’s tense and tetchy contest, having been left bloodied and appeared to suffer a suspected gruesome broken nose after colliding painfully with the shoulder of Austrian defender Kevin Danso at a free-kick.

Maximilian Wober’s unfortunate first-half own goal forced by the brilliant feet and trickery of Mbappe was all that separated the sides in the end after a very competitive and absorbing affair in Dusseldorf, with France keeping early pace with the Netherlands - who beat Poland 2-1 in Hamburg on Sunday thanks to Wout Weghorst’s dramatic late winner - at the summit of Group D ahead of Friday’s huge showdown between the European giants in Leipzig.

Mbappe wasn’t the only France player to be left bloodied during a bruising encounter against Ralf Rangnick’s intense Austria side, with Antoine Griezmann also having his head bandaged after a nudge from Wober sent him hurtling into the advertising hoardings early in the second half.

Mbappe received a yellow card before going off following his injury, having gone back onto the pitch and sat down to force a stoppage after a furious Didier Deschamps was denied the opportunity to send on a pair of substitutes as France were left to briefly defend with 10 men at a crucial stage of the game.

Real Madrid’s newest superstar had a central role throughout proceedings as expected, spurning a glorious chance to double the French lead early in the second half and score his first Euros goal when he seized on an error and raced clear before bending agonisingly wide of the far post.

Mbappe also had the first chance of the game at Dusseldorf Arena, forcing a smart low save from Austrian goalkeeper Patrick Pentz at his front post.

Crucial moment: Maximilian Wober’s own goal was the difference as Austria were beaten by France at Euro 2024 (AP)
Crucial moment: Maximilian Wober’s own goal was the difference as Austria were beaten by France at Euro 2024 (AP)

The likes of Marcus Thuram, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud and Griezmann also missed opportunities to make it a more comfortable night’s work for a France team that have reached the final at three of the past four major tournaments, with the pace and crossing of full-back Theo Hernandez - filling in for injured brother Lucas - causing their opponents plenty of issues all night.

Austria more than played their part in a thrilling game that belied its status as the joint-lowest-scoring fixture at the European Championship so far to follow England’s unconvincing victory over Serbia and Belgium’s shock defeat by Slovakia, with their pivotal moment coming just before Wober’s dreadful own goal, when Christoph Baumgartner could not turn home a cushioned lay-off from Marcel Sabitzer after some quick thinking from France goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

Rangnick’s men will look to bounce back quickly from their narrow opening loss when they take on a Poland side expected to have skipper Robert Lewandowski back from injury in Berlin on Friday.