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France held in Croatia

Croatia players celebrate Andrej Kramaric's equaliser against France in the Nations League. Credit: EPA

A reshuffled French team have drawn 1-1 away to Croatia in their second Nations League game, four days after an opening Group A1 defeat by Denmark.

The defending champions went ahead through Adrien Rabiot’s goal early in the second half but Andrej Kramaric’s late penalty gave the hosts a deserved draw.

The match-up was a repeat of the 2018 World Cup final won 4-2 by France in Moscow.

France, who slumped to a 2-1 home loss to Denmark in their opening match, were without Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema at the start as coach Didier Deschamps made 10 changes to Friday’s team.

Deschamps was back on the bench after he missed the loss to Denmark following the death of his father.

“We did good things considering all the changes. We were ahead and could have scored more but it’s a pity we gifted them the equaliser,” Deschamps, who insisted France’s goal was to gear up for the World Cup, said.

“The result is not satisfying and even if it’s a competitive game our goal is to prepare for (the World Cup at) the end of the year.”

Croatia were the most dangerous in a lively start before Christopher Nkunku was denied a goal for offside as France began to threaten on the break around the half hour mark.

Les Bleus piled the pressure on Croatia’s left flank and Moussa Diaby came close before the break just before Aurelien Tchouameni’s fierce strike was parried away by Dominik Livakovic.

France were rewarded for their good intentions in the 52nd minute when Rabiot collected a through ball from Wissam Ben Yedder and found the back of the net with a low shot for his second international goal.

But substitute Jonathan Clauss brought Kramaric down in the area and the striker converted the resulting penalty by wrong-footing Mike Maignan in the 83rd minute.

Kramaric threatened again five minutes from time but Maignan pulled a decisive save to salvage a point.

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