Luis Enrique’s Spain missed out on a golden chance to win their first trophy since 2012 and suffered a 2-1 loss to France in the UEFA Nations League Final at San Siro. La Roja were the better team for 65 minutes and took the lead, but France’s superior attacking talent and a controversial VAR decision proved too much for Spain and Les Bleus are the second-ever Nations League winners.
The first half felt like a final: neither team wanted to take real risks and open up spaces at the back, and the game was very tactical throughout the period. Spain, as they usually do, had much more of the ball and showed more initiative trying to find spaces, but the French defense was well-organized and alert and never allowed a real chance for La Roja.
France couldn’t bring any danger on the counter either, with all three star forwards kept quiet by the Spanish defense, and neither goalkeeper had to make any meaningful interventions.
At halftime, a tight game with plenty of intensity and defense was wide open going into the second half.
The first 20 minutes of the second half continued to be tight and lacking in attacking moments, but it quickly went into overdrive when Sergio Busquets played Mikel Oyarzabal through with a nice long ball and the Real Sociedad striker won it off Dayot Upamecano and found the bottom corner to give Spain the lead.
Karim Benzema tied things up just 90 seconds later with a brilliant strike into the top corner, and then we got the final we were hoping for: both teams opened up and started attacking each other, and we had some good chances for the two sides.
Then with 10 minutes to go, Theo Hernández played a through ball to an offside Kylian Mbappé, but Eric García’s attempted interception fell to Mbappé who passed the ball into the net. According to VAR, García’s touch played Mbappé onside and the goal was given, completing the French comeback.
Spain threw everyone forward in the dying seconds trying to find a late equalizer, but France held on and the final whistle came to crown the reigning world champions as Nations League winners.
Spain: Simón; Azpilicueta, E. García, Laporte, Alonso; Gavi (Koke 75’), Busquets, Rodri (Merino 84’); F. Torres (Fornals 84’), Oyarzabal, Sarabia (Pino 61’)
Goal: Oyarzabal (64’)
France: Lloris; Koundé, Varane (Upamecano 42’), Kimpembe; Pavard (Dubois 79’), Pogba, Tchouameni, Theo; Griezmann (Veretout 90+2’); Benzema, Mbappé
Goals: Benzema (66’), Mbappé (80’)