France made a giant leap towards the Euro 2024 finals as they maintained their perfect qualifying record with a 2-0 home victory over Ireland on Thursday.
Playing at the Parc des Princes in order to preserve the Stade de France pitch for Friday’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.
“I can’t complain. We’re not qualified yet, but so far it’s been a good campaign. It was not always easy to find the solutions and we could have scored more goals,” coach Didier Deschamps said.
France face Germany in Dortmund on Tuesday in a friendly before resuming their qualifying campaign with a trip to the Netherlands on Oct. 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.
“I could have scored another but I hope it will come in the next game,” said Thuram, whose father Lilian scored his only two goals for France in the semifinal against Croatia on their way to winning the 1998 World Cup.
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.