France charged closer to the Euro 2024 finals, taking a mighty step forward as they kept their unbeaten streak intact with a smashing 2-0 win against Ireland right on their home turf on a thrilling Thursday night.
Imagine this: the grand Parc des Princes, which usually echoes with soccer cheers, was set aside for the hallowed pitch where the Rugby World Cup would kick off between France and New Zealand the very next day. And on this unique stage, Les Bleus triumphed with flair, thanks to the splendid efforts of Aurelien Tchouameni and Marcus Thuram in a game that was heavily tilted in their favor.
With this victory, their fifth in as many games, France solidified their position at the top of Group B with a dazzling 15 points, placing them a whopping nine points ahead of the Netherlands. The Dutch, meanwhile, sailed to a 3-0 win over Greece but had played two games less.
Coach Didier Deschamps had this to say about their spectacular journey so far: “I can’t complain. We’re not punching our ticket just yet, but this campaign has been a joy ride. Finding solutions wasn’t always a walk in the park, and we could’ve easily sprinkled more goals into the mix.”
Next on the horizon, a clash with Germany awaits in Dortmund, a friendly to keep the engines running smoothly, before they dive back into the qualifying action with a visit to the Netherlands on October 13th.
France squeezed the life out of Ireland in the midfield battleground, and the reward came at the 19th-minute mark. Tchouameni, channeling his inner maestro, unleashed an 18-meter screamer, guided by Kylian Mbappe’s magical touch, into the back of the net. A hiccup occurred when Giroud limped off the field, nursing his aching ankle, only to be replaced by Marcus Thuram.
But Thuram, in all his glory, stepped up and struck gold with a shot that defied physics, turning after Mbappe’s attempt took a detour and ultimately finding its way to Thuram’s feet. It was his debut goal for the French squad, a moment to savor.
With hearts pounding and hopes soaring, Mike Maignan swooped in for a gravity-defying save, denying Chiedozie Ogbene’s thunderous attempt. France’s defense remained an impenetrable fortress throughout the campaign.
Tchouameni, determined to leave his mark, launched another blistering missile, but Gavin Bazunu, Ireland’s guardian, leaped into action and parried it away with superhero-like reflexes. Ousmane Dembele, the maestro of mesmerizing runs, kept the Irish defenders on their toes throughout the first half. In a twist of fate, his final shot kissed the post, narrowly missing the mark.
Deschamps, the tactician extraordinaire, decided it was time to shuffle the deck. Kingsley Coman and William Saliba took the stage, relieving Dembele and Lucas Hernandez. As the clock ticked, Eduardo Camavinga and Benjamin Pavard joined the party, replacing Antoine Griezmann and Jules Kounde.