France took a giant stride towards the Euro 2024 finals as they maintained their perfect qualifying record with a 2-0 home victory over Ireland yesterday.
Playing at the Parc des Princes to preserve the Stade de France pitch for today’s Rugby World Cup opener between France and New Zealand, Les Bleus prevailed thanks to goals by Aurelien Tchouameni and Marcus Thuram in a one-sided match.
Their fifth win in as many games strengthened their lead in Group B with a maximum 15 points, nine ahead of the Netherlands, who beat Greece 3-0 and have played two fewer matches.
France face Germany in Dortmund on Tuesday in a friendly before resuming their qualifying campaign with a trip to the Netherlands on October 13.
France suffocated Ireland in midfield and were rewarded for their domination on 19 minutes when Tchouameni’s 18-metre strike from Kylian Mbappe’s delicate touch found the back of the net.
Giroud limped off the pitch and was replaced by Marcus Thuram before having his left ankle iced.
Thuram made his presence count as he doubled the advantage with a shot on the turn after Mbappe’s attempt had been deflected into his path three minutes into the second half, his first goal for France.
Mike Maignan pulled off a brilliant save to deny Chiedozie Ogbene, ensuring France have yet to concede a goal in their qualifying campaign.
Tchouameni came close with another fierce shot but Gavin Bazunu parried it away.
Ousmane Dembele, who tortured the Irish defence in the first half with his dazzling runs, also missed a chance to add a third when his shot struck the post.
Deschamps made changes to give his substitutes game time with Kingsley Coman and William Saliba replacing Dembele and Lucas Hernandez before Eduardo Camavinga and Benjamin Pavard came on for Antoine Griezmann and Jules Kounde.
Meanwhile, three first-half goals secured the Netherlands a comfortable 3-0 home win over Greece.
Marten de Roon, Cody Gakpo and Wout Weghorst scored as the Dutch won their second match in Group B, showing much improvement after crashing out of the Nations League finals they hosted in June.
They now have six points, ahead of Greece on goal difference, behind leaders France.
The Dutch victory came after coach Ronald Koeman had challenged his team to show more of a steely edge after losing three of four games since he took charge at the start of the year.