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PIX: France down Ireland; Dutch overcome 10-man Gibraltar

March 28, 2023 09:56 IST

IMAGE: Benjamin Pavard, centre, celebrates with team-mates Kylian Mbappe and Eduardo Camavinga after scoring the goal for France against Ireland in the Euro 2024 qualifying Group B match at Dublin Arena in Dublin, on Monday. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Getty Images

France defender Benjamin Pavard made a spectacular comeback to the team as his superb second-half strike saw them beat Ireland 1-0 away in Euro 2024 qualifying Group B match on Monday.


Pavard, cast aside at last year's World Cup after a woeful opening game, struck from 18 metres to put France on six points from two games after Friday's 4-0 drubbing of the Netherlands.

France goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who took over as number one after Hugo Lloris's international retirement, denied the hosts an equaliser with a stunning save in the last minute, three days after stopping a penalty at the Stade de France.

France lead the group ahead of second-placed Greece, who have three points having only played once, with the Dutch third on goal difference after beating Gibraltar 3-0 at home.

Ireland are in fourth place after one game.

"It’s never easy against such an aggressive team. We were ahead but then they threatened on set pieces. We were solid, it’s a good two games even if today’s was not as good as Friday’s," said France coach Didier Deschamps.

"But it as a different opponent. Anyway, six points is ideal. Congratulations to the squad."

IMAGE: Kylian Mbappe runs with the ball. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Getty Images

Deschamps made three changes to the team who started against the Netherlands, with Eduardo Camavinga in midfield instead of Aurelien Tchouameni while Olivier Giroud was fielded as a lone striker with Randal Kolo Muani sliding to the right flank and pushing Kingsley Coman to the bench.

In defence, Pavard, who did not play at the World Cup after a terrible match against Australia, was back as right back instead of Jules Kounde and he made his presence count.

France got off to a lively start and got a good chance in the ninth minute when Kolo Muani burst into the area, only to opt not to shoot and try to find Giroud with a back heel.

It was Les Bleus's only decent opportunity in the opening half as they lacked creativity against an Irish side aware of Kylian Mbappe's speed and happy to sit back and wait.

Pavard, however, broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half with an 18-metre shot that went under the bar after he had intercepted a poor pass from Josh Cullen to Jason Knight.

Ireland upped the pressure in the final minutes after France had failed to double their advantage through Adrien Rabiot and Moussa Diaby and they thought they had an equaliser through Nathan Collins, only for the defender’s header to be tipped away from under the bar by Maignan.

“Mike is Mike. It’s not easy to come after Hugo but he has been around with us for a while and in two games he’s shown his strength,” said Deschamps.

Ake double helps Dutch overcome 10-man Gibraltar

IMAGE: Memphis Depay, right, celebrates with team-mate Denzel Dumfries after scoring the opening goal for the Netherlands against Gibraltar at De Kuip in Rotterdam. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Netherlands defender Nathan Ake scored twice and Memphis Depay also got on the scoresheet as the hosts laboured to a 3-0 home win over 10-man Gibraltar in a Euro 2024 qualifier on Monday.

Depay put the hosts ahead at halftime and Ake's double came after the break in another unconvincing Dutch performance, this time against one of Europe’s smallest soccer nations after being thumped in France last week in their first Group B game.

France lead the group on six points from two games after beating Ireland 1-0 away, while second-placed Greece, who have only played once, and the Netherlands have three points.

The Dutch had 48 efforts on goal but only 11 on target, showing little of the sharpness coach Ronald Koeman had been looking for in a reaction to their 4-0 loss in Paris on Friday.

“We were sloppy in possession. It was a very difficult evening," said Dutch skipper Virgil van Dijk.

"We'd hoped to try to destroy them but scored three goals when we actually should have scored a lot more. That is something we have to improve for the next period."

IMAGE: Nathan Ake scores the third goal for the Netherlands in the 82nd minute. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Depay rose to head home Denzel Dumfries’ cross, as Gibraltar’s goalkeeper Dayle Coleing got his timing wrong coming off the line, to put the Dutch ahead in the 23rd minute.

But any hopes at the Feyenoord Stadium of that opening up a torrent of goals was stemmed by some determined defending.

Changes from Koeman at halftime -- with Cody Gakpo and Donyell Malan coming on to boost the attack -- added more zip to the Dutch attack and Ake made it 2-0 in the 50th minute. His header went in off the post with Dumfries again the provider.

The hosts were handed a one-man advantage when Liam Walker was sent off for a studs-up tackle on debutant Mats Wieffer one minute later.

But Gibraltar, who had two players aged over 40 in their starting lineup, remained resilient and only conceded the third when Ake’s shot from just inside the area took a wicked deflection off John Sergeant in the 82nd minute.

The visitors handed a debut to Dutch-born Niels Hartman, a student at Loughborough University who spent his teenage years in Gibraltar where his father managed the branch of a major Dutch bank.

But after coming on in the 86th minute he never got a foot on the ball, scurrying around trying to put his body in the way as the Dutch threw everything forward in the closing stages.

“Today was a game in which it is hard to ever do well," added Van Dijk. You have to win 10-0, then you have done well. We had to take the initiative, show intensity and make goals - as many as possible. Unfortunately that did not work out."

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