French football's teen sensation Eduardo Camavinga returned to Ligue 1 concerns with Rennes on Wednesday hours after becoming the youngest player to represent France for more than a century. When the midfielder replaced N'Golo Kante on Tuesday night during the second-half of the Nations League tie against Croatia, he took the accolade of third youngest man to turn out for the senior side.Camavinga, at 17 years and nine months, is eclipsed only by Maurice Gastiger who was 17 years and 4 months when he first played for France in 1914 and Julien Verbrugghe, who was two months shy of his 17th birthday when he made his debut in 1906."Firstly I feel joy and pride for my family," said Camavinga, who was born in Angola to Congolese parents who moved to France when their son was two. "I have often played against older players and I think that has allowed me to have a certain amount of maturity," he added.In his 27-minute cameo, the Rennes prodigy, who has been linked with Real Madrid, was tidy and industrious alongside Steven Nzonzi and Moussa Sissoko and appeared to offer more attacking menace than Kanté."He's in his element," said France coach Didier Deschamps after the match. "And he's got no problems on the physical side of things. He has a way of carrying the ball ... it seems so simple and so easy for him. He's been the youngest person to play for France for a long time and he has the potential to play again for the team."StakesCamavinga's introduction came in the 63rd minute soon after the Croatian substitute Josip Brekalo had made it 2- 2.Parity did not last long for the visitors at a fanless Stade de France. Dayot Upamecano's powerful header from Antoine Griezmann's corner restored the hosts' advantage and Olivier Giroud confidently swept home a 77th minute penalty to give France a two goal cushion and ultimately maximum points after two games in Group 3 of League A. Portugal lead the way on goal difference following their 2-0 win in Sweden.Midway through the first half, a comfortable victory would have been hard to foresee. Croatia dominated the opening exchanges as France appeared to struggle with the seven changes from Saturday's win in Solna against Sweden.Dejan Lovren opened the scoring after 15 minutes but on the brink of half-time, France struck twice.First Griezmann levelled afer a neat interchange in the Croatia penalty area between Wissam Ben Yedder and Anthony Martial.As Croatia recovered from the setback, Sissoko muscled possession of the ball and released Ben Yedder down the right, his pass into the centre found its way to the left where Martial connected. His shot hit the post but rebounded onto the Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic and into the net."To go in at half-time 2-1 was a bit flattering," said Deschamps. "But that's football and you have to go through moments like that. We were off the pace for the first 30 minutes. We weren't winning challenges and seemed timid but then I thought the Croatians ran out of steam."
What did the opening fixtures of the Nations League tell us about hopes ahead?
Tuesday night's results leave World Cup winners France second on goal difference in Group A, behind Portugal who beat Sweden 2-0 as Cristiano Ronaldo crossed the 100-goal mark for his country. French coach Didier Deschamps made seven changes from Saturday's win in Solna, with Wissam Ben Yedder and Anthony Martial leading the attack after Kylian Mbappe was forced out of the side with Covid-19.Antoine Griezmann, Dayot Upamecano, Olivier Giroud as well as an own-goal from the visitors' goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic secured a repeat of the result when the sides met in Russia two years ago.Former Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren opened the scoring for the visitors in a near-empty stadium due to the coronavirus pandemic with a half-volleyed effort inside the hosts' box after a quarter of an hour of play.Griezmann equalised with two minutes of the first half remaining by side-footing home Martial's low cross. French dominate final half-hourManchester United's Martial was involved in the next French goal a minute into injury time.Dominik Livakovic fumbled Martial's attempt into his goal after Ben Yedder's dangerous ball.The sides were equal once again 10 minutes into the second half as Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic split the home side's defence in half with a tidy through ball.Substitute Josip Brekalo held up possession well before sliding his effort past Hugo Lloris.Deschamps' side claimed all three points with two goals in the final 25 minutes.Seventeen-year-old Eduardo Camavinga became France's youngest international in 96 years when he replaced Ngolo Kante at the Stade de France in the second half and is surpassed only by Julien Verbrugghe, aged 16 years and 10 months in 1906, and Maurice Gastiger, at 17 years and 4 months in 1914.
Grealish was a second-half substitute in 0-0 draw