France flawless after defeating Ireland 2-0 in European Championship qualifying game

France continued their flawless start to the European Championship qualifying campaign with a 2-0 victory over Ireland. The two time champs look all set to secure a spot at the European tournament next year, considering their present form.

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Didier Deschamps’ team has been exceptionally solid, not conceding a single goal in their five matches and currently leading Group B with 15 points, holding a comfortable nine-point lead over the Netherlands and Greece. The Dutch, who defeated Greece 3-0, have two games in hand. Aurelien Tchouameni and Marcus Thuram were both on target for France at the Parc des Princes. The match was played at PSG’s stadium.

Deschamps made four changes to the lineup that had beaten Greece 1-0 in the previous game, with striker Olivier Giroud starting upfront instead of Randal Kolo Muani. However, Giroud’s 125th appearance was cut short as he was substituted by Thuram after just 25 minutes due to an apparent ankle injury following contact with an Irish player.

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Playing in front of his home crowd, PSG forward Kylian Mbappe provided the assist for Tchouameni’s opening goal. Another PSG player, Ousmane Dembele, posed a continuous threat on the right flank.

The pace of Irish forward Chiedozie Ogbene on the right wing dwindled quickly. France then took control after Tchouameni broke the deadlock in the 19th minute. Before that, a direct free-kick from Antoine Griezmann had almost surprised Gavin Bazunu, the Irish goalkeeper, but he managed to clear the ball with his chest.

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Bazunu had little chance three minutes later when Tchouameni converted Mbappe’s pass just outside the box. He curled a magnificent shot inside the far post. Mbappe thought he had doubled France’s lead before halftime after quickly combining with Thuram. But a VAR check confirmed his teammate was offside during the buildup.

Thuram increased the lead to 2-0 in the 48th minute after Mbappe’s shot from inside the box was blocked. Thuram collected a rebound off Mbappe’s shot, before firing from close range and finding the back of the net. France goalkeeper Mike Maignan was also impressive during whatever little action he was involved in. He maintained yet another clean sheet with a reflex save to deny Ogbene’s header.

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