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World Cup champions France get Euro 2020 qualifying campaign off to winning start

Didier Deschamps’ side scored three goals in 12 first-half minutes against Moldova.

Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring.
Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring.
Image: AP/PA Images

A FLURRY OF first-half goals ensured a full-strength France side made a winning start to their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign as they beat Moldova 4-1 in Chisinau.

Didier Deschamps took no chances against a side ranked 170 in the world, starting the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba, and France had the three points secured with three goals in the opening 36 minutes.

Griezmann volleyed in the first after a clever one-two with Pogba before Raphael Varane headed home from a corner. Olivier Giroud then turned in Blaise Matuidi’s cross for his 34th French goal, moving him level with David Trezeguet in third in the country’s all-time top scorers.

Mbappe then added a fourth with a sharp first-time finish late on to complete a comfortable night for the reigning World Cup holders, whose clean sheet was ruined by substitute Vladimir Ambros scoring an 89th-minute consolation.

France v Croatia - FIFA World Cup 2018 - Final - Luzhniki Stadium France manager Didier Deschamps. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

For the first 24 minutes, France barely had a sniff of goal, but 12 minutes later they had put the put the game to bed with three goals in swift succession.

The first was the pick of the bunch, Griezmann rolling the ball into Pogba and continuing his run to get on the end of the Manchester United midfielder’s chipped pass, the Atletico Madrid forward then firing an unstoppable volley into the net.

Oleg Reabciuk almost handed the world champions a second when he volleyed Layvin Kurzawa’s cross just wide of his own goal, but from the resulting corner France scored anyway as Varane’s header from Griezmann’s near-post corner could not be stopped by defender Ion Jardan at the back post.

Mbappe’s weak finish prevented Griezmann from claiming a second assist, though France were soon 3-0 up as an unmarked Giroud got a faint touch on Matuidi’s cross with a volley.

Moldova France Euro 2020 Soccer Kylian Mbappe in action at the Zimbru Stadium in Chisinau. Source: AP/PA Images

While Deschamps’ side took their foot off the accelerator after the break, Pogba was still twice denied by Alexei Koselev, the second save a brilliant one-handed stop to a header from Griezmann’s free-kick.

Mbappe eventually got in on the act three minutes from time, profiting after good pressure from substitute Thomas Lemar. It was not the final goal of the game as Ambros pounced when the ball came back off a post from Vitalie Damascan’s header.

Referee Aleksandar Stavrev then correctly booked Mbappe for diving to try and win a penalty as Koselev rushed out in stoppage time.

Murray Kinsella and Andy Dunne dissect Ireland’s disappointing Six Nations campaign, and discuss the pros and cons of rugby’s new law proposals in the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly:


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