France’s momentum continues after their World Cup success and they will be tough to beat if they can maintain a similar level of performance in the coming months.
Koeman is starting to improve his side but they were a level below France for the majority of the 90 minutes.
France make it five wins in a row against Netherlands thanks to a gutsy display at the Stade de France.
Mbappe was the main danger in the first half but Netherlands dug in and made life difficult. Babel thought he had done enough to rescue a point until Giroud’s piledriver settled the contest.
FRANCE’S ALL-TIME LEADING SCORERS
Thierry Henry (51)
Michel Platini (41)
David Trezeguet (34)
Olivier Giroud (32)
Zinedine Zidane (31).
The Chelsea striker is often derided but not by those who know him best. Even with all that quality coursing through Didier Deschamps’ team, Giroud remains there leading the line. His presence means they can go short via the irresistible pairing of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe but also more direct.
Giroud gives them an added dimension and he rightly took the plaudits. Thirty-two goals in 82 internationals is a fine achievement.
And Deschamps really needed his intervention in the Nations League on Sunday. Mbappe had tapped in Blaise Matuidi’s cross on 14 minutes but Holland struck back through Ryan Babel midway through the second half.
Ronald Koeman’s side looked at home against the elite for the first time in a long time. So Giroud’s finish, fabulously twisting his hips to convert the corss, meant the homecoming was not bittersweet.
France’s first game back was an extravagant celebration, from the two golden stars fashioned in the Stade de France stands to symbolise two World Cup victories in 20 years, to the parade of the trophy afterwards.