Kylian Mbappe left Dusseldorf a bloody mess but hopes to be back in action as soon as possible.

The France captain is desperate to add a European Championships winners’ medal to his collection.

But despite the tournament favourites’ kicking off with a 1-0 win over Austria - thanks to an own goal from the hapless Maximilian Wober - Mbappe’s tournament could be over.

The late broken nose - suffered as he brutally collided with the shoulder of Austria’s Kevin Danso - left all of France holding its breath over whether their leader, their superstar, is OK - and just as importantly, if he’ll be back.

France boss Didier Deschamps couldn’t mask his fears post-match.

“He’s not doing well,” he admitted. “His nose got badly hit, that’s for sure. We need to check it out, but it seems quite complicated. Which is very unfortunate for us tonight. He didn’t get off lightly. It’s still to be seen [if he will play again].

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“At this stage, I can’t answer. I don’t know.”

Man of the Match N'Golo Kante added: “We’re worried to see Kylian leave the field like that. It’s worrying. But we hope it’s not too severe and that he’s soon back with us.”

But as Deschamps spoke, Mbappe left the stadium for hospital along with doctors and members of the team's medical staff. Emergency surgery had already been booked but ultimately wasn't needed. He left the hospital at 1am to return to France's training camp.

"Any ideas for a mask?" he posted on social media.

By that point, the game itself was almost an afterthought.

In it, Mbappe had had the first big chance of the game after eight minutes. Three rapid-fire passes in midfield sent the soon-to-be Real Madrid forward racing through, but cutting in from the left unchallenged he tried to be too clever, not looking to bend it into the far corner, ala Thierry Henry, and scuffed his effort.

Wober, replacing injured captain David Alaba - missing the entire tournament - was booked shortly after for a crude challenge on Ousmane Dembele, halting a blistering run in its tracks. Dembele, perhaps the most infuriatingly talented but wayward player at this entire tournament, lured another Austrian into the book just after the half hour mark, Philipp Mwene falling for his trickery.

By then, it had been all France. Crafty. Composed. Thrilling at top speed. But without a goal.

Then Austria should have scored.

After a slack giveaway, they countered quickly and when Michael Gregoritsch crossed from the left, ex-Manchester United loanee Marcel Sabitzer leapt and his wonderful touch put Christoph Baumgartner clean through and 10 yards from goal. However, Mike Maignan - the replacement for World Cup winner Hugo Lloris - raced from his goal-line, got a big touch on Baumgarnter’s effort and watched as it looped into the air and came down just wide of his right-hand post.

From being so close to the ecstasy of a lead against the tournament favourites, it was a matter of seconds before the Austrians felt the agony of falling behind.

Unsurprisingly, Mbappe was at the heart of it.

Having drifted over to the right, he took a pass from Dembele, took two touches to show Mwene a clean pair of heels and clipped a cross that simply hit off a hapless Wöber and rolled it’s way into the net.

On the touchline, head coach Didier Deschamps unleashed a triumphant roar.

Antoine Griezmann, here, there and everywhere in an all-action performance, was left bloodied after colliding head-first with an advertising hoarding moments into the second period, returning to the field bandaged and looking like prime-Terry Butcher.

And in midfield his running mate, Kante, back in the international fold after a 21-month exile, was doing all those things that for so long made him one of the Premier League's most formidable combatants - and suggest not everyone slows down when they head to Saudi.

Mbappe missed his second sitter when he bundled his way through Kevin Danso's challenge, picked his spot and somehow fired wide with the goal at his mercy, France's No.10 scarcely able to believe what he'd done.

Marcus Thuram, the Inter Milan centre-forward who has usurped Olivier Giroud as first choice No.9, forced Pentz into a fine sprawling stop as France turned up the heat and looked to kill the game off as it entered its last quarter.

Then came the moment that will have left France fans panicking, saying 'sacre bleu' and probably things much stronger.

As the cross came in, Mbappe leapt and misdirected it badly, his timing off. But his face went smash into Danso's shoulder and left him on the deck. With blood flowing, it wasn't a pretty sight. It looked untidy at best, almost certainly broken.

Austria pressed, but couldn’t find an equaliser, although boss Ralf Rangnick was happy with his side’s display.

“We are disappointed," he said. “The only goal is a very unfortunate own goal. I think Didier Deschamps was very happy at the final whistle.

“Until the last minute, we were in it. They were really glad it was over.”

Yet while Deschamps celebrated in front of the France supporters at full-time, glad probably wasn’t what he was feeling. His side face Netherlands in Leipzig on Friday.

The question is whether Mbappe will be with them. And if not then, then when?

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2024-06-17T21:19:02Z dg43tfdfdgfd