FRANCE MAKES WINNING START

Germany defender Hummels’ own goal helps world champion win 1-0
FRANCE MAKES WINNING START
Germany’s Mats Hummels (left) reacts after deflecting the ball into his own net against France
Mats Hummels’ return to the national team went better for France than it did for Germany.
The experienced defender was recalled by Germany coach Joachim Low for the European Championship for his leadership qualities, but he ended up scoring an own-goal to give France a 1-0 victory in the Euro 2020 on Tuesday.
“It was a struggle between titans,” France coach Didier Deschamps said after the match.
Hummels was attempting to stop Lucas Hernandez’s cross from reaching France forward Kylian Mbappe when he diverted the ball into his own net with his shin in the 20th minute.
There were chances at both ends, but France looked more likely to score while Germany squandered opportunities.
Ilkay Gundogan should have scored in the first half, but couldn’t direct his shot on target.
France had two goals called back for offside in the second half. Mbappe sent a curling shot inside the far post midway through the half and then set up Karim Benzema for another late in the match.
Benzema was playing in his first competitive game for France since a World Cup quarter-final loss to Germany in 2014. Germany had never previously lost an opening game in the group stage at the European Championship.
Russia beats Finland
Russia secured its first win of the Euro 2020 with a hard-fought victory over Finland in St Petersburg on Wednesday.
Aleksei Miranchuk put the host ahead in first-half injury time with a fine, curling finish, despite being surrounded by defenders. Finland would have qualified for the last-16 with a win and thought it had opened the scoring in the first half, but Joel Pohjanpalo’s header was ruled out for offside.
The result leaves both sides on three points before their final Group B matches on Monday.
Austria’s Arnautovicembroiled in racism row
Austria forward Marko Arnautovic has been suspended by Uefa for one match after being found guilty of ‘insulting another player’ in Sunday’s Euro 2020 win over North Macedonia.
Arnautovic, who has Serbian heritage, had to be restrained by captain David Alaba as he celebrated his late goal. Arnautovic appeared to direct comments at opponents Egzon Bejtulai and Gjanni Alioski, who have Albanian roots. Arnautovic responded after the match by saying that he is “not a racist”.
The 32-year-old was found guilty of misconduct, with Uefa not considering his actions to be discriminatory. Arnautovic apologised for his goal celebration in a post on Instagram. He wrote: “I would like to say one thing very clearly: I am not a racist. I have friends in almost every country and I stand for diversity. Everyone who knows me is aware of that.”
RESULTS:GROUP F: France 1 (Mats Hummels 20’ (OG)) beat Germany 0; Hungary 0 lost to Portugal 3 (Raphael Guerreiro 84’, Cristiano Ronaldo 87’ (P) & 90+2’)
GROUP B: Finland 0 lost to Russia 1 (Aleksei Miranchuk 45+2’)
Rudiger caught nibbling Pogba
In a bizarre incident during the Euro 2020 marquee Group F clash, German defender Antonio Rudiger was caught on camera attempting to bite France midfielder Paul Pogba during the match on Wednesday. It was not a full mouth bite like the way Luis Suarez goes at it, but the officials missed out on that as Rudiger was right behind Pogba when the defender decided to have a nibble. Pogba protested and even went up to the linesman but did not make much of a scene of the matter as it wasn’t that severe. On camera during the match in the first half, before a throw-in was awarded to France, Rudiger was seen trying to nibble through Pogba’s jersey, which left the midfielder in a state of confusion and shock. Pogba was furious at the time as no official witnessed the bizarre incident till it was displayed on television during the half-time break.

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