France took a major step closer to the Euro 2024 finals on Thursday, maintaining their flawless qualification record with a 2-0 home victory over Ireland. In a one-sided contest played at the Parc des Princes in order to protect the Stade de France pitch for Friday’s Rugby World Cup opener between France and New Zealand, Les Bleus won courtesy of goals by Aurelien Tchouameni and Marcus Thuram. France’s sixth win in a row increased their Group B lead to 15 points, nine more than the Netherlands, who beat Greece 3-0 and have played two fewer games.
However, it marks the Republic’s third defeat in four games, dropping them to fourth place in the group. The odds of Stephen Kenny’s team qualifying for next summer’s finals in Germany are slim, but they must regroup swiftly and seek to resuscitate their campaign against the Netherlands at home on September 10, Sunday. France, on the other hand, faces Germany in Dortmund on September 12, Tuesday in a friendly before resuming their qualifying campaign with a trip to the Netherlands on October 13.
France dominated Ireland in midfield and was rewarded on 19 minutes with Real Madrid midfielder Tchouameni’s stunning 18-metre strike following Kylian Mbappe’s beautiful touch. Giroud hobbled off the pitch and was replaced by Marcus Thuram while his left ankle was iced. Thuram made his presence felt when he doubled the lead three minutes into the second half with a shot on the spin after Mbappe’s attempt was diverted into his path. It was Thuram’s first goal for France.
Mike Maignan made a spectacular stop to deny Chiedozie Ogbene, ensuring France is yet to concede a goal in the qualification campaign. Tchouameni came near again with a powerful shot, but Gavin Bazunu parried it away. Ousmane Dembele, who tormented the Irish defense with his spectacular runs in the first half, also wasted a chance to score a third when his shot hit the post.
Deschamps made a few changes and gave his substitutes some game time. Kingsley Coman and William Saliba replaced Dembele and Lucas Hernandez before Eduardo Camavinga and Benjamin Pavard came on for Antoine Griezmann and Jules Kounde.
Later in the day, Hungary rallied past Serbia 2-1 to remain unbeaten in its qualifying group for the Euro championship. With this win, Hungary tops Group G with 10 points, three more than the Serbs who were previously undefeated. Hungary has lost only one of its last 11 matches.