Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud scored a brace for France as the World Cup winners came from behind to defeat Sweden 4-2, condemning them to relegation from the UEFA Nations League group stage on Tuesday.
Giroud netted in each half to take his tally for Les Bleus to 44, only seven shy of Thierry Henry’s all-time scoring record.
The 34-year-old tucked home a cutback from Marcus Thuram in the 16th minute after Viktor Claesson put Sweden in front only four minutes into the match at Stade de France.
Right-back Benjamin Pavard gave the hosts the lead in the 36th with a sensational volley before Giroud’s diving header made it 3-1 after the break.
“We had a lot of regrets and frustration, also on an individual level, against Finland. We wanted to learn from that match, and we were able to react against Portugal by dominating and deserving the victory,” Giroud said after the win.
In a surprise 2-0 loss in a friendly against Finland last week, Giroud only completed three more passes than goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and was dropped for France’s 1-0 victory over Portugal on Saturday, which ensured Les Bleus of a place in the Nations League semifinals.
“This gathering is positive after this last match. Even if everything is not perfect, there is still a feeling of satisfaction,” Giroud added.
Robin Quaison’s goal in the 88th minute gave Sweden some hope but when all the Swedish players moved up front for a last-gasp corner, France cleared the ball and Kingsley Coman ran through from midfield to roll the ball into an empty net from 40 meters out.
The defeat also means that Sweden are relegated to League B after finishing bottom of Group A3 on goal difference behind Croatia, who suffered a 3-2 home defeat to Portugal also on Tuesday.