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Kylian Mbappé scores on return from broken nose and France draws 1-1 with Poland at Euro 2024

DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — Kylian Mbappé, wearing a mask to protect his broken nose, marked his return at the European Championship with a goal against Poland.

It wasn't enough for a victory on Tuesday, though, and it's not enough to solve France’s growing problems at Euro 2024.

Mbappé removed his protective mask to celebrate in front of his team’s fans after converting a 56th-minute penalty. But Robert Lewandowski secured a 1-1 draw for Poland with a 79th-minute spot kick that he got to take twice, leaving the French as the runners-up to Austria in Group D and dropping them into the same half of the draw with Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo, host nation Germany and Spain — three of the continent’s heavyweight nations.

Austria beat the Netherlands 3-2 in a match played at the same time.

The result also means France has yet to score an open-play goal at Euro 2024, having beaten Austria 1-0 on an own-goal and then drawn 0-0 with the Dutch — when Mbappé was missing after breaking his nose against the Austrians.

Les Bleus have advanced, sure, but they haven’t been convincing.

“I would be a lot more concerned if there were no chances, but obviously there is a little bit of room for improvement," France coach Didier Deschamps said. “Maybe there are other teams who have given off something a bit different, but the fact we haven't scored limits our performance. We are here where we want to be.”

Mbappé returned to the starting lineup against last-place Poland, which was already eliminated before the match began, and was clearly impaired by wearing a black mask that limits his peripheral vision.

He largely kept away from overly physical challenges and didn’t compete for the ball in the air. He was often seen hanging back at the edge of the area, waiting for the ball to come to him.

Deschamps said it was “complicated” for Mbappé.

“I thought he was quite good on his feet with the mask — he needed to get used to it," the coach said. “But when he sweats, that sticks in his eyes and he needed to wipe his eyes.”

Still, Mbappé remained France’s most dangerous attacker and finally got his first goal in six matches at the tournament — taking in four at Euro 2020 and two at Euro 2024 — after Ousmane Dembele was tripped in the area. It was the Real Madrid-bound striker's 48th goal for France.

Mbappé played the full game, starting as a central striker before ending up on the left wing, in another underwhelming display from France — a two-time European champion and the World Cup runner-up in 2022.

A match against the runner-up in Group E, which could be Belgium, Romania, Slovakia or Ukraine, awaits in the last 16 on July 1.

Then it gets a whole lot harder for the French.

At least they advanced, which cannot be said for Poland.

Making likely his last appearance at a European Championship, the 36-year-old Lewandowski departed with a goal — even if he needed two attempts to get past goalkeeper Mike Maignan with his stutter-step run-up.

Maignan saved the first kick but was adjudged to have come off his line before making the save.

Lewandowski had another opportunity, performed the same routine, and this time found the bottom corner for his 83rd international goal, even with Maignan diving the right way.

The same thing happened to Lewandowski against France at the World Cup, when Hugo Lloris was goalkeeper. Again, Lewandowski scored on the second attempt after Lloris encroached.

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AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024