Mats Hummels’ return to the Germany national team on Tuesday went better for France than it did for his country.
The experienced defender was recalled by Germany coach Joachim Low for the UEFA Euro 2020 for his leadership qualities, but he scored an own-goal to give France a 1-0 victory.
“It was a struggle between titans,” France coach Didier Deschamps said.
Hummels was attempting to stop Lucas Hernandez’s cross from reaching France forward Kylian Mbappe when he diverted the ball into his own net with his shin in the 20th minute.
“I can’t fault him,” Low said. “It’s just bad luck. The ball in was fast. Maybe we should have attacked the throw in quicker, but it was hard for Mats to clear the ball.”
There were chances at both ends, but France looked more likely to score, while Germany squandered opportunities.
Ilkay Gundogan should have scored in the first half, but could not direct his shot on target.
France had two goals called back for offside in the second half.
Mbappe sent a curling shot inside the far post midway through the half and then set up Karim Benzema for another late in the match.
Benzema was playing in his first competitive game for France since a World Cup quarter-final loss to Germany in 2014.
Mbappe also had a penalty appeal waved off in between the offside goals — Hummels had timed his tackle perfectly when the 22-year-old Frenchman would have been through on goal.
Germany had never previously lost an opening game in the group stage at the Euros.
Low started with the same lineup from the 7-1 rout of Latvia in Germany’s final warm-up game, but his team had no answer to Paul Pogba, who disrupted the team’s buildup play.
“It was important to start with a win. We were playing Germany, they really riled us, but we wanted this win above all,” said Pogba, who also provided incisive passes for France’s fearsome forward trio of Mbappe, Benzema and Antoine Griezmann.
Low, who is stepping down after the tournament, sent on forwards Leroy Sane and Timo Werner late in the match, and then Kevin Volland as a last resort, but none could make a difference.
“We threw everything into it and fought to the end,” Low said. “We were just missing the ability to break through in the final third.”
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