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Deschamps thanks 'leader' Giroud as France career ends with semi-final defeat

  /  autty

Didier Deschamps piled praise on Olivier Giroud after the veteran striker's international career ended in disappointment with defeat in the Euro 2024 semi-final.

France took the lead against Spain through Randal Kolo Muani on Tuesday, but a stunning strike from Lamine Yamal – who became the youngest goalscorer in World Cup or Euros history – got Spain back on level terms.

Dani Olmo then netted in a quickfire turnaround and Spain held on for victory in the second half to book a place in the final against either England or the Netherlands.

France struggled to live up to their tag as joint pre-tournament favourites with England, but still ground their way through to the last four, only to come unstuck in Munich.

Kylian Mbappe admitted after the match that both he and France failed at the Euros. Les Bleus lost a major tournament semi-final for the first time since Euro 1996, with the new Real Madrid forward wasting one good opportunity late on.

Mbappe ended the tournament with no non-penalty goals from 23 such shots. Since records began in 1980, only Deco in 2004 (24) has ever had more non-penalty shots without netting at a single edition of the European Championships.

And the goal from Kolo Muani, which was set up by Mbappe, meant France had finally scored their first non-penalty goal at Euro 2024 (excluding own goals), with their 87th shot from such situations.

The international career of France's top scorer Giroud came to an end in the match, as he made a late substitute appearance.

Giroud played 137 times and scored 57 goals – more than any other player for France – and won the World Cup in 2018.

But he spent most of his last tournament on the bench, tallying just 56 minutes of game time in four outings.

Giroud, 37, announced his retirement from international football prior to the Euros, having secured a move to Los Angeles FC from AC Milan.

"He had a lot of good moments, but also some more difficult ones," coach Deschamps said about Giroud's France career after the Spain loss.

"He is an example of longevity, seriousness and professionalism. Even though he had less playing time at this Euro, he was fully with the squad. 

"He is one of the leaders. I want to say well done and thank you."

Giroud also helped France to reach the final at Euro 2016 and World Cup 2022.

As well as Mbappe and Giroud, it was a tough tournament for Antoine Griezmann, who set a record against Spain when he came on as a second-half substitute to play his 36th match at the Euros and World Cup combined.

While there has been speculation over the 33-year-old’s international future, the Atletico Madrid forward vowed to get back to his best following criticism of his form. 

He made six appearances but did not register a goal or an assist and had lost his place in the France starting line-up by the time of their elimination.

"I started the tournament badly but I felt better and better, even if I ended up on the bench," said Griezmann. 

"I’ll be back. I tried to give everything, in different positions too, I had to adapt. This is the life of a footballer. Others didn't play a minute, so it's not me who is going to complain."