LONDON: Benjamin Pavard’s superb second-half goal gave France a narrow 1-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland in a Group B match of the Euro 2024 qualifying at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on Monday.
Having held the French in a first half of few chances, the Republic of Ireland fell behind five minutes after the restart when Pavard intercepted a Josh Cullen pass and fired past Gavin Bazunu.
The hosts put the beaten World Cup finalists under severe pressure late on but fell short as Mike Maignan’s stunning save denied Nathan Collins a late leveller.
With the win, France are already well on their way to qualifying for next year’s finals in Germany after backing up their rout of the Netherlands with a narrow win in front of a raucous Dublin crowd.
Les Bleus had blown the Dutch away on Friday, but were gifted the winner at the Aviva Stadium as Pavard punished a sloppy pass in devastating fashion with a brilliant right-footed shot.
Having starred on his first outing as France captain with two goals against the Dutch, eyes were naturally drawn to Kylian Mbappe in Dublin. But while the Paris St-Germain superstar showed flashes of quality, he was upstaged by Bayern Munich right-back Pavard, who slammed a rasping shot in off the underside of Bazunu’s crossbar after cutting out Cullen’s attempted pass to Jason Knight.
Netherlands rout Gibraltar
Nathan Ake scored twice as the Netherlands beat Gibraltar 3-0 in the other Group B qualifying game for the first win of Ronald Koeman’s second spell in charge.
The Dutch were totally dominant against the minnows in Feyenoord, having all 51 shots in the game and 86 percent possession.
Memphis Depay and Ake scored headers from Denzel Dumfries balls, and Ake drove in a late deflected third. Gibraltar’s Liam Walker was sent off in the 51st minute for a bad challenge on Dutch debutant Mats Wieffer.
Gibraltar forward Lee Casciaro extended his record as the oldest player to ever feature in European Championship qualification at the age of 41 years and 179 days.
The team ranked 200th in the world gave an international debut to Dutch-born Niels Hartman, who is currently a student at Loughborough University and plays for their football team.
Other results: Group E: Moldova 0 Czech Republic 0, Poland 1
Albania 0. Group F: Austria 2
Estonia 1, Sweden 5 Azerbaijan 0. Group G: Hungary 3 Bulgaria 0, Montenegro 0 Serbia 2.