In his first national team start since March 2018, the Man Utd star assisted a goal and played a key role in another as Les Bleus got a victory
Anthony Martial was pleased to have made an impact for France upon his return to the squad after two and a half years in the wilderness as the world champions defeated Croatia 4-2 in the Nations League.
France head coach Didier Deschamps called up Martial to the national team for the first time since March 2018 following a stellar season at club level for Manchester United.
The 24-year-old came on as a substitute in the 1-0 victory over Sweden on Saturday and won a penalty that Antoine Griezmann fired over.
With Kylian Mbappe ruled out of Tuesday’s Nations League clash against Croatia after testing positive for coronavirus, Martial was handed a start and set up Griezmann to restore parity after Dejan Lovren’s opener in Paris.
Martial then saw his effort from Wissam Ben Yedder’s cross hit the post and go in off the back off goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic, putting France ahead before half-time.
Josip Brekalo equalised 10 minutes after the restart but Dayot Upamecano’s header and a penalty from Olivier Giroud gave Les Bleus victory in the replay of the 2018 World Cup final, which they won by the same scoreline.
“It’s been a long time since I played for France and it was important to me to have a good match,” Martial told TF1. “I managed to score and provide an assist. We won and I’m very happy.
“It was a bit complicated in the front three at the start because we didn’t have the ball, but as soon as we managed to combine, we knew how to put them in danger.
“The victory was great. We scored points and that’s important.”
France laboured to victory over Sweden and Deschamps persisted with the same 3-4-3 formation against Croatia, though he changed seven players in his line-up.
Deschamps hopes to iron out the kinks in the system ahead of the delayed Euro 2020 next year.
“It’s a good thing we had difficulties. The formation is new and we don’t have all the automatisms. I changed seven players between the two matches, but I’m not looking for excuses,” he told TF1.
“We need to be having difficulties now. June 2021 will not be the time for that.
“Everyone can analyse as they please. This system has advantages and disadvantages, but it will be necessary to repeat this system to develop the automatisms.”