UEFA Nations League: France, Germany scoreless; Bale blitzes Ireland

Mike Egerton/PA via AP
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A roundup of all of Thursday’s action in UEFA’s new international competition, the UEFA Nations League…

[ MORE: What is the UEFA Nations League, and how does it work? ]

Germany 0-0 France

It’s a true wonder that France were able to score enough any goals en route to winning the 2018 World Cup, given how defensively Didier Deschamps set up his team in Russia, and given how defensively Les Bleus continue to be deployed after conquering the world this summer.

Three defensive midfielders is a setup that few defense in the world require to protect them, let alone a unit which features the likes of Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti. But, there we were, and here we are. Deschamps went with the familiar formula in Thursday’s Nations League-opening game against Germany, and the result was a scoreless stalemate that saw the reigning world champions hold just 40 percent of possession and fail to produce a chance that truly threatened Manuel Neuer with anything more than speculative efforts from long range.

[ MORE: Predicting the UEFA Nations League ]

Wales 4-1 Ireland

Real Madrid fans were understandably a bit fearful of life after Cristiano Ronaldo, but perhaps they shouldn’t be as the Portuguese superstar’s departure has apparently given way to the year of Gareth Bale. The Welsh dynamo already has three goals in as many games for Madrid, and on Thursday the 29-year-old ran the entire show during Wales’ 4-1 victory over Ireland.

He had a goal and an assist, but it could have been so much more with a bit more fortune in his favor. Still, Ryan Giggs‘ side was comprehensive in its dominance and should find their way to a first-place finish in League B – Group 4 (Denmark is the other nation in the three-team group). Tom Lawrence, Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts were the other goalscorers for the Dragons.

Czech Republic 1-2 Ukraine

Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko scored the 92nd-minute winner in Ukraine’s 2-1 victory away to the Czech Republic, completing a comeback from 1-0 down after just four minutes. Patrick Schick put the home side ahead early, but Yevhen Konoplyanka drew the visitors level immediately after the halftime intermission.

Friday’s UEFA Nations League schedule

League A – Group 3

Italy vs. Poland — 2:45 p.m. ET

League B – Group 2

Turkey vs. Russia — 2:45 p.m. ET