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France beat Kazakhstan - Spain do an Aiden McGeady in Georgia

There was also a thumping 8-0 win for Denmark against Moldova.

France players celebrate with Dembele.
France players celebrate with Dembele.
Image: AP/PA Images

Updated Mar 28th 2021, 7:01 PM

OUSMANE DEMBELE SCORED the opening goal as holders France beat Kazakhstan 2-0 away to claim the first victory in their campaign to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Sergei Maliy put through his own net for France’s second goal before half-time but Kylian Mbappe had a second-half penalty saved after coming off the bench.

It was a welcome result for the reigning world champions after they kicked off their campaign in qualifying Group D by drawing 1-1 at home to Ukraine last Wednesday.

Didier Deschamps’ side now stop off in Sarajevo for another match against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday to complete a hectic start to qualifying before reverting their focus to the delayed Euro 2020 in June.

We are well used to the lead changing hands late on in Georgia. First it was Aiden McGeady who specialised in this trick, then Joe Biden.

Today it  was Spain. Trailing  1-0 to Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s first half goal, Spain equalised on 56 minutes when Jordi Alba set up Ferran Torres to notch his sixth goal in 10 internationals.

The scent of victory on their nostrils, they went on the attack from thereon in, chalking up 79 per cent possession over the course of the game, ending it with a 2-1 win, courtesy of Dani Olmo who also profited from Alba’s creativity.

Irish fans will remember Moldova being relatively tricky opponents in the last World Cup campaign – as well as recalling how Denmark were a few steps above that description in the play-offs.

Well, both teams have changed. Moldova have gone backwards, Denmark have discovered new stars. There was no Thomas Delaney on their side today while Christian Eriksen had to be content with a place on the bench until the 77th minute.

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By then, Denmark were out of sight, leading 6-0 courtesy of goals from Mikkel Damsgaard, their latest star, who – at 20- has already scored four goals in three internationals.

He got two this evening, as well as creating a couple, the first for Kasper Dolberg – who also scored a penalty – the second for Robert Skov. Jens Stryger Larsen, the Udinese defender, Mathias Jensen and Marccus Invartsen also got on the scoresheet.

© – AFP, 2021

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