France match-winner Olivier Giroud admits he was aware he was about to be substituted before he scored his landmark goal in the 2-1 Nations League victory over Holland.
In addition to ending his 10-match international drought the 75th-minute strike took him past Zinedine Zidane to third on France’s all-time list with 32 goals.
“I thought I was going to be taken off. The game against Germany was my first of the season as a starter and the coach took me off, which was normal,” said the Chelsea forward, who extended his stay on the pitch by 14 minutes with his goal.
“I suffered again physically today and I realised I didn’t have many minutes left.
“I know Benjamin Mendy’s ability to cross to the near post and I went for it – it worked out well for me and the team. I’m very happy for everyone.”
Ryan Babel looked to have spoiled the World Cup winners’ homecoming party on their first appearance in Paris since the summer success in Russia after his first competitive international goal in 13 years cancelled out Kylian Mbappe’s opener.
Coach Didier Deschamps, whose side now have four points from their opening two matches, accepted the atmosphere would have been very different without Giroud’s intervention.
“The win was the most important thing in order to make this a beautiful party,” he told a press conference.
“I’m very happy for Olivier Giroud. Strikers go through periods when they don’t score as many goals.
“He’s useful to our play and he scored a lovely goal that gave us the win this evening.
“We’re going to savour it. There was a formidable atmosphere this evening and it’s going to carry on for a bit.”
Joachim Low insisted Germany did enough to warrant their 2-1 victory over Peru, despite admitting Nico Schulz’s winner was “fortuitous”.
Debutant Schulz’s low drive crept under Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese’s body and into the net as the hosts edged to victory in Sinsheim.
Luis Advincula put Peru ahead with a crisp finish before Juliant Brandt levelled for the hosts before half-time.
Low believes Germany were worthy winners at the Rhein-Neckar Arena as his side fight to rebuild their reputation after the humiliation of failing to pass the summer’s World Cup group stages.
“I am pleased that we won the game, you got the sense during the game that the team really wanted to get the victory,” Low said on the German Football Association’s official website.
“The winning goal was slightly fortuitous, but we also missed plenty of chances in the first half.
“At the end of the day, the goalkeeper should have saved the winning goal. But I’m still really pleased for Nico Schulz, who has made a really good impression on me in training.
“Overall I think we played quite well, without setting the world alight. Every win will do us the world of good though.”
Low thanked German supporters for sticking with both him and his players, especially given the huge disappointment of the World Cup.
“In the second half we didn’t quite get our balance right, which we still need to perfect,” said Low.
“We were a little bit more open at the back in comparison to the first half. We will need a bit more time to make sure our defence is a bit more stable.
“The receptions we’ve received in both Munich (for the 0-0 draw with France) and Sinsheim have been very positive. I believe that the team have understood the fact that we’re under a lot pressure, although the fans have continued to back us.
“We have to carry on working to get that identification with the team back.”
Ryan Giggs felt Wales’ defeat to Denmark was a “learning curve” for his young players.
Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen scored in each half as Denmark ran out comfortable 2-0 UEFA Nations League winners in Aarhus.
“It wasn’t easy after the highs of Thursday to get back up again,” Giggs said, referring to their 4-1 opening Nations League victory against the Republic of Ireland.
“Against a very good team and physically with the quick turnaround we found it difficult.
“But the lads lads kept going and for the young players it’s a learning curve.
“I tried to freshen up it as much as I could and also keep that rhythm of playing so well.
“But you had a team who played two competitive games in a short space of time and a team that didn’t – and it showed in the end.”
Gareth Bale captained Wales for the first time in his 72-cap career as veteran defender Ashley Williams was rested on the back of the Ireland game.
Real Madrid star Bale was not at his best, but Giggs dismissed the suggestion that the decision was a mistake.
“I don’t think it affected his performance,” he said.
“I’m lucky because, with Ash not in the team, we have a lot of candidates for the captaincy.
“I just felt he was the most experienced. He leads by example and he’s very vocal in the dressing room.
“When Gareth speaks, especially the young players listen and it wasn’t a difficult situation.
“I could have picked others, Chris Gunter or Aaron Ramsey, but I felt Gareth was best suited to do the role from the rest of the players.
After an under par start, Denmark assumed control from the moment Eriksen opened the scoring after 32 minutes with a low drive which went in off a post.
And Eriksen made it 15 goals in his last 18 international appearances with a 63rd-minute penalty after Ethan Ampadu had handled Viktor Fischer’s cross.
“Our style of play in between the lines suits Christian a lot,” said Denmark manager Age Hareide.
“There’s a different positioning in the offensive play in our team to Tottenham’s and we are always looking for him in and around the box.
“I didn’t think in the first half we had the rhythm, but it could have been that Wales was good too.
“We found the rhythm better in the second half and we are used to playing tight matches.
“We did well in World Cup qualification playing tight matches, and it was clear that our legs were fresher than Welsh legs later in the game.”