Olivier Giroud thought he would be substituted moments before putting an end to his international goal drought, scoring the winner as world champions France made a winning return to Paris with a 2-1 Nations League victory over the Netherlands at the Stade de France.
The Chelsea striker volleyed home an excellent winner with 15 minutes remaining, after Ryan Babel had cancelled out Kylian Mbappe’s opener, sending the crowds into party mode as they grabbed their first Uefa Nations League win.
Giroud eventually was withdrawn from the game in the 89th minute, being replaced by Ousmane Dembele.
Although the 32-year-old had failed to score at the World Cup, this was his 32nd international goal and put him ahead of Zinedine Zidane on Les Bleus’ all-time top scorer list, in outright fourth place.
“I thought I was going to be taken off. The game against Germany was my first of the season as a starter and the coach took me off, which was normal,” said the Chelsea forward.
“I suffered again physically today and I realised I didn’t have many minutes left.
“I know Benjamin Mendy’s ability to cross to the near post and I went for it – it worked out well for me and the team. I’m very happy for everyone.”
After the match France manager Didier Deschamps was full of praise for Giroud and said how glad he was that he didn’t make the call to substitute him.
“The win was the most important thing in order to make this a beautiful party,” Deschamps said.
“I’m very happy for Olivier Giroud. Strikers go through periods when they don’t score as many goals.
“He’s useful to our play and he scored a lovely goal that gave us the win this evening. We’re going to savour it.
“There was a formidable atmosphere this evening and it’s going to carry on for a bit.”