Mbappé found mask ‘complicated’ despite goal – Deschamps

France coach Didier Deschamps highlighted the problems Kylian Mbappé faced wearing a mask to protect his broken nose in the 1-1 draw with Poland at the European Championship on Tuesday.

Mbappé scored a second-half penalty to mark his return to France’s starting lineup, eight days after suffering the bloody injury late in the 1-0 win over Austria on June 17.

Deschamps said ahead of the game that Mbappé’s peripheral vision would be limited because of the mask, but there were other issues on a hot day in Dortmund, too.

“Despite everything he has gone through, a week after the blow, it was complicated,” Deschamps told reporters through a translator. “I thought he was quite good on his feet with the mask. He needed to get used to it.

“But when he sweats, that sticks in his eyes and he needed to wipe his eyes.”

Still, Deschamps was happy with Mbappé’s performance, having left the Real Madrid-bound striker on for the full game — first as a central striker and then on the left wing.

“He’s hungry to play and the game would have done him some good,” Deschamps said, “especially given what we’re going to be doing [next].”

Mbappe’s goal wasn’t enough for a victory on Tuesday, and it wasn’t enough to solve France’s growing problems at Euro 2024.

Mbappé removed his protective mask to celebrate in front of his team’s fans after converting a 56th-minute penalty.

But Robert Lewandowski secured a 1-1 draw for Poland with a 79th-minute spot kick that he got to take twice, leaving the French as the runners-up to Austria in Group D and dropping them into the same half of the draw as Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo, host nation Germany and Spain — three of the continent’s heavyweight nations.

Austria beat the Netherlands 3-2 in a match played at the same time.

The result also means France have yet to score an open-play goal at Euro 2024, having beaten Austria 1-0 on an own goal and then drawn 0-0 with the Dutch — when Mbappé was missing after breaking his nose against the Austrians.

Les Bleus have advanced, but they haven’t been convincing.

“I would be a lot more concerned if there were no chances, but obviously there is a little bit of room for improvement,” Deschamps said. “Maybe there are other teams who have given off something a bit different, but the fact we haven’t scored limits our performance. We are here where we want to be.”

Still, Deschamps admitted he is hoping they can rediscover the impressive scoring form they showed in qualifying.

“We need to score more goals, we need to be more clinical, and I am looking for that,” Deschamps said. “We can improve but that’s it. We need to hit them where it hurts but we have always had a goal average that is quite impressive, for these three games it hasn’t quite been there.

“But I am positive, I am always positive. It is a new competition starting for us.”

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.

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