Titleholder France held by Croatia to 1-1 in Nations League

·2 min read

SPLIT, Croatia (AP) — Titleholder France failed to rebound from its opening defeat in the Nations League after it was held by Croatia to 1-1 on Monday.

Midfielder Adrien Rabiot broke the deadlock after the break and substitute Andrej Kramarić equalized from the spot late in the teams' first meeting since the 2018 World Cup final that France won 4-2.

Croatia has failed to beat France in their nine encounters, adding the third draw on Monday.

The draw did neither any favors: France was stunned by Denmark 2-1 in Paris on Friday, the first loss after 20 unbeaten matches, and Croatia started its campaign by losing at home to Austria 3-0.

France will next travel to Austria on Friday while Croatia will visit Denmark.

The kickoff of another League A game between Austria and Denmark in Vienna was delayed by 90 minutes due to power failure.

France missed star striker Kylian Mbappé, who picked up a knee injury during the loss to Denmark, and was one of 10 changes in the starting 11 made by France coach Didier Deschamps.

In the absence also of Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann, France featured Wissam Ben Yedder and Christopher Nkunku up front.

The sold-out crowd of some 30,000 cheered Croatia captain Luka Modrić in his 150th appearance.

The first defensive half resulted in only one chance on each side and Nkunku had a goal disallowed for offside.

Rabiot exchanged passes with Ben Yedder, who set him up to find the back of the net with a left-foot shot seven minutes into the second half to put the visitors ahead.

Kramarić calmly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way with a low right-foot penalty seven minutes from time.

France and Croatia have a point each, trailing Denmark and Austria atop the standings by two points.

The four group winners in League A will qualify for the final four in June next year. The group winners in the lower leagues will gain promotion.

LEAGUE B

Iceland midfielder Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson scored four minutes into the second half to salvage a 1-1 draw against Albania in Reykjavik. Taulant Seferi put the visitors ahead in the first half. Iceland leads the group with two points after drawing with Israel 2-2 in its opening game. Israel and Albania have one point each. Russia was suspended from the group following the invasion of Ukraine.

LEAGUES C AND D

Kazakhstan took a three-point lead in Group 3 of League C after a 1-0 away victory at Slovakia, which is second. Belarus drew with Azerbaijan to earn their first point in the same group.

In League D, Latvia made it two wins from two after beating Liechtenstein 1-0. Andorra and Moldova played to 0-0 in the other Group 1 game.

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The Associated Press

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