Germany loses again in 2-1 defeat to World Cup winner France

(AP Photo/Francois Mori)

By JEROME PUGMIRE

AP Sports Writer

PARIS (AP) Germany's year just keeps getting worse.

France handed the struggling Germans a 2-1 defeat in the UEFA Nations League on Tuesday, meaning Die Mannschaft has lost two straight competitive games for the first time since 2000.

It was Germany's sixth loss overall in 2018, and fourth in its last six competitive games after a group-stage exit at the World Cup.

The latest defeat, which followed a 3-0 humbling against the Netherlands on Saturday, came despite taking an early lead and dominating the first half against the World Cup champion.

Forward Antoine Griezmann helped France rally as he got the better of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer again, scoring both goals for the host at a packed Stade de France.

The result will only increase the pressure on Germany coach Joachim Loew, who guided the team to a World Cup title in 2014, along with three major tournament semifinals, last year's Confederations Cup win and one other final since 2008.

Midfielder Toni Kroos gave Germany the lead from the penalty spot after 14 minutes and the visitors had chances to go further ahead before Griezmann equalized with a superb header in the 62nd. He showed perfect timing to meet Atletico Madrid teammate Lucas Hernandez's cross from the left with a glancing header which looped over Neuer's outstretched hand.

With 10 minutes left, Griezmann coolly put France ahead with a penalty for his 26th international goal. He sent Neuer the wrong way, having also done so in the European Championship semifinals two years ago - when Griezmann also scored twice.

Deschamps acknowledged his side had been outplayed in the first half.

"We struggled to stop them, they went through us," he said. "Our positioning wasn't quite what it should have been."

But France has forwards other countries dream of, includling World Cup star Kylian Mbappe .

His pass picked out midfielder Blaise Matuidi's run and center half Mats Hummels was adjudged to have impeded Matuidi, although there was no video review available to the referee and Loew said the penalty should not have been given.

The win moved World Cup winner France top of Group 1 in the top-tier League A with seven points, while Germany is last with one point. The Netherlands can still top the group by beating France and Germany.

Germany and France drew 0-0 in their opening Nations League game.

Coach Joachim Loew tried a more adventurous formation this time, bringing in 23-year-old Serge Gnabry and 22-year-old Leroy Sane - both pacey wingers. With left back Nico Schulz also pushing up regularly, France was completely stretched in the first half.

The opening goal came after France midfielder Paul Pogba lost the ball and Sane's low cross drew a penalty when it hit the arm of defender Presnel Kimpembe - who again looked vulnerable following a poor performance in a 2-2 draw against Iceland in a friendly last Thursday.

After Kroos slotted his penalty away into the right corner, he could easily have been celebrating another goal in the 20th.

The fact he wasn't was no fault of his own.

Sane again used his pace to pull clear down the right, but fluffed an easy pass to Kroos, who was totally unmarked near the penalty spot.

Early in the second half, the 19-year-old Mbappe burst away from the sluggish Hummels, but shot instead of dribbling past Neuer and the agile goalie blocked it with his left leg.

Moments later, Schulz found Sane down the left but he skewed his shot wide - which proved the turning point as France took control.

Despite another defeat, Loew felt encouraged.

"We were absolutely on a par with the world champions," he said. "It was a very good reaction after the Netherlands game."

France plays the Netherlands in Rotterdam on Nov. 16 and the Germans host the Dutch three days later.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Updated October 16, 2018

Sports Data API Powered by STATS © 2018 by STATS.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

Partner of USATODAY Sports Digital Properties