France head coach Didier Deschamps admitted Kylian Mbappe struggled to play while wearing a protective mask during their 1-1 draw with Poland on Tuesday.

Les Bleus are into the last 16 of Euro 2024, but had to settle for the runners-up spot in Group D after failing to beat an already-eliminated Poland, while Austria beat the Netherlands to leapfrog the French into first place.

Mbappe broke his nose during France’s win against Austria on matchday one before sitting out their draw with the Netherlands. He made his return starting up front for Tuesday’s game clad in a protective mask, and though he scored from the penalty spot, he found it hard to make an impact on proceedings during open play.

In his post-match press conference, Deschamps claimed Mbappe’s sweat made it harder to adjust to wearing the mask.

“Despite everything he has gone through, a week after the blow, it was complicated,” Deschamps said. “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.

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

Kylian MbappeKylian Mbappe

Mbappe was regularly seen fiddling with the mask / Dean Mouhtaropoulos/GettyImages

France end the group stage having only scored two goals so far at Euro 2024 – Mbappe’s penalty against Poland, and an own goal from Austria’s Maximilian Wober.

“We need to score more goals, we need to be more clinical, and I am looking for that,” Deschamps added. “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.”

France will play the runners-up of Group E in the last 16 on Monday.


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