Euro 2024 Qualifier Report: France 2 - 0 Republic of Ireland
Ireland will need to pick themselves up for Sunday’s match with the Netherlands after a 2-0 loss to France on a sultry night at the Parc des Princes.
There wasn’t much expectation that the Boys in Green could get their qualification hopes for next summer’s Euros in Germany back on track – particularly after Evan Ferguson was ruled out ahead of this week’s double header.
They were also facing a French side who hadn’t lost a home qualifier for 13 years and were yet to concede a goal so far in this qualifying campaign.
They would keep another clean sheet after this 90 minutes.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose as Gavin Bazunu was beaten by another long distance screamer. Aurelien Tchouameni let fly from outside the box in the 19th minute off a Kylian Mbappe tee up and there was nothing the Southampton goalkeeper could do as it flew by him.
Ireland’s performance was certainly more assured than their last away trip – the hapless loss in Athens - and they got forward in numbers when they could and, probably more importantly, went with numbers at the back when they didn’t have the ball against the French super stars.
Stephen Kenny had gone with a nominal back three but it was a back five for much of the match. Alan Browne was deployed in the right wing back position and it was he and Nathan Collins who had the unenviable task of trying to stop Mbappe down the left wing and they did keep him off the scoresheet - he had scored 15 goals in his last dozen starts for France.
Kenny’s second half plans were dealt a blow by France doubling their lead within three minutes of the restart. First half substitute Marcus Thuram, who replaced injured France record goalscorer Olivier Giroud, punished Ireland when the ball came to him in the box from broken play.
France really should have grabbed more goals. Ousmane Dembele hit the post and Marcus Thuram missed a sitter of a header from close range but Didier Deschamps' side couldn't find a third as they barely needed to get out of third gear against Ireland.
With the Netherlands winning 3-0 at home against Greece, Thursday’s loss in Paris means that Ireland sit fourth in the five team group with just the three points they earned from the win over Gibraltar.
France: Mike Maignan; Jules Kounde (Benjamin Pavard 89), Dayot Upamecano, Lucas Hernandez Hernandez (William Saliba 73), Theo Hernandez; Aurelien Tchouameni, Adrien Rabiot; Ousmane Dembele (Kingsley Coman 73), Antoine Griezmann (Eduardo Camavinga 89), Kylian Mbappe’ Olivier Giroud (Marcus Thuram 26).
Subs not used: Alphonse Areola, Brice Samba, Axel Disasi Mhakinis Belho, Ibrahima Konaté, Boubacar Kamara, Youssouf Fofana, Randal Kolo Muani.
Booked: Theo Hernandez (21), Antoine Griezmann 87)
Rep. Of Ireland: Gavin Bazunu; Nathan Collins, Shane Duffy, John Egan; Alan Browne, Joshua Cullen, Jason Knight, Jayson Molumby (Dara O'Shea 67), Enda Stevens (James McClean 46); Adam Idah (Will Keane 67 [Aaron Connolly 78]), Chiedozie Ogbene (Festy Ebosele 84).
Subs not used: Mark Travers, Caoimhín Kelleher, Darragh Lenihan, Ryan Manning, Jeffrey Hendrick, Jamie McGrath, Will Smallbone.
Booked: Joshua Cullen (47).
Referee: Urs Schnyder (Switzerland)
extratime.com player of the match: Chiedozie Ogbene (Republic of Ireland)