Rapid-fire Wirtz speeds Germany to victory against France

France’s defender #02 Benjamin Pavard (L) and Germany’s midfielder #17 Florian Wirtz (R) fight for the ball during the friendly football match between France and Germany, at the Groupama Stadium in Decines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on March 23, 2024. AFP

Florian Wirtz grabbed his first international goal with a strike that will go down in the history books as his Germany side beat France 2-0 in an international friendly on Saturday.

On the cusp of seven seconds 20-year-old starlet Wirtz stunned the crowd in Lyon to give Germany the lead, before Kai Havertz wrapped up the encounter just after half-time in an impressive display by the Euro 2024 hosts.

Toni Kroos, playing his first international since 2021, received the ball from kick-off and chipped it forward to Leverkusen playmaker Wirtz.

Wirtz ventured forward and as he was not closed down, he unleashed a fierce dipping drive that left Brice Samba glued to the spot as the ball flew under the crossbar with the clock ticking to just seven seconds.

“I don’t think anyone understood or realised what was happening. We were all quite surprised, but there was obviously a lot of joy. You can’t start a match any better,” Wirtz said to German television channel ZDF.

“But for it to work so well and lead to this chance to score, it’s great.”

If not for Christoph Baumgartner’s lighting strike inside seven seconds earlier on Saturday, Wirtz’s goal would have equalled the record for the fastest recorded international goal — scored in 2013 by compatriot Lukas Podolski.

Four minutes after the break, Havertz slotted the visitors into a two-goal lead that they never looked like relinquishing.

Jamal Musiala was left with far too much space in the box when Wirtz found him with a long pass and the Bayern Munich youngster rounded Samba before laying the ball on a plate for the on-rushing Havertz.

France coach Didier Deschamps rang the changes on the hour mark but without Antoine Griezmann, missing his first international since 2017, the hosts lacked a cutting edge despite the presence of star striker Kylian Mbappe.

It was Julian Nagelsmann’s charges who looked the more likely to score the next goal, with only fine saves by Samba denying debutant Maximilian Mittelstaedt and Thomas Mueller.

France nearly halved the deficit in the 88th minute when Mittelstaedt mistimed a clearance on to his own arm, but Antonio Rudiger was on hand to hack the ball off the line and VAR then adjudged the handball inside the box to be unintentional.

“We can obviously be very satisfied. We’ve taken some good steps forward, some important steps forward. These are the last few chances for us to get a bit of a feel for Euro 2024. We’ll take that with us today,” said Kroos.

Both sides continue their preparations for this summer’s European Championship, with France taking on Chile and Germany hosting old rivals Netherlands on Tuesday.

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