Kylian Mbappe remains on bench as France and the Netherlands draw in Leipzig

Kylian Mbappe watched on from the bench as France and the Netherlands played out a goalless draw at Euro 2024.

After breaking his nose in France’s opening Group D win over Austria, Les Bleus skipper was forced to don a mask in training and was only a substitute here in Leipzig, where a 0-0 stalemate – the first of these finals – leaves both former winners on the cusp of qualifying for the last 16.

The Netherlands thought they had all-but secured safe passage when Xavi Simons struck in the second half, only for his effort to be ruled out by referee Anthony Talyor.

While the television cameras constantly trained a lens on Mbappe, the opening exchanges of the game itself were frenetic if not fantastic.

Mike Maignan was called into action in the opening minute, brilliantly turning a Jeremie Frimpong effort behind for a corner after he burst through the France backline with ease.

At the other end, Bart Verbruggen was also tested early on as Antoine Griezmann, playing in a more advanced role with Mbappe on the bench, forcing an acrobatic stop out of the Brighton goalkeeper.

Moments later though and France missed two good chances to break the deadlock, first Adrien Rabiot for some reason opting to pass to Griezmann when clean through only for the forward to slip.

Kylian Mbappe, centre, with a protective mask on his face as he warms up before the UEFA Euro 2024 Group D match
Kylian Mbappe, centre, wore a protective mask during the warm-up in Leipzig (Adam Davy/PA)

Griezmann picked himself up to then send another effort whistling past Verbruggen’s right-hand post soon after and the end-to-end nature of the contest continued as Cody Gakpo fizzed a shot wide for the Dutch.

The game naturally settled down and, other than Marcus Thuram blazing over from a tight angle, the half petered out with very few opportunities.

The start of the second half was more sedate, Thuram shooting wide when off balance before Aurelien Tchouameni headed just over the bar.

France were knocking on the door as the omnipresent N’Golo Kante threaded the ball into Griezmann, who was kept out by the foot of Verbruggen.

A large screen showing a VAR check which ruled out Xavi Simons' strike in the second half for the Netherlands
A large screen shows a VAR check which ruled out Xavi Simons’ strike in the second half for the Netherlands (Adam Davy/PA)

It would be the Netherlands, however, who thought they had landed the first blow as Simons rifled home.

But the goal was ruled out by Taylor with Denzel Dumfries adjudged to be blocking Maignan as fellow Premier League official Stuart Atwell conducted a lengthy VAR check before sticking with the on-field call.

Mbappe remained on the bench throughout as France once again failed to win a game in which the Real Madrid-bound forward did not start – a run now stretching back seven games to March 2022.

Both sides will qualify for the knockout stages by drawing their last matches, but Austria’s win over Poland in the other Group D clash also leaves them in with a shout.

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