- Benjamin Pavard scored a stunning winner as France defeated a determined Republic of Ireland side 1-0
- The Bayern Munich full-back had been promoted to the starting lineup
Benjamin Pavard scored a stunning winner as France defeated a determined Republic of Ireland side 1-0 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in Euro 2024 qualification Group B.
The Bayern Munich full-back, who had been promoted to the starting lineup, finally broke through the hapless Ireland defence during the second period, as Stephen Kenny’s team ultimately had little to show for their valiant efforts.
How the game unfolded
Ireland got off to a good start against the 2018 world champions thanks to a loud wall of green behind them. They showed good control in possession and didn’t seem to be phased by the significance of the game.
Unsurprisingly, Kenny’s men failed to cause Mike Maignan any trouble, and France promptly took control after a largely passive first 10 minutes from Didier Deschamps’ team.
The Irish defence had a few concerns from the vivacious Randal Kolo Muani, but Kenny’s back line had the answers. John Egan’s blocked Antoine Griezmann attempt with 15 minutes remaining was the only notable early chance.
At the opposite corner, Chiedozie Ogbene was giving Les Bleus a whole variety of problems, and Matt Doherty’s furious outbursts were also not going unnoticed.
The Boys in Green were certainly the happier of the two teams at halftime as Griezmann missed a few chances as France’s attempts to penetrate the Irish defence continued to fail.
Pavard second half magic
Five minutes into the second half, Deschamps was the one making a brighter expression, as returning right-back Pavard broke the Irish defence thanks to a crucial blunder by Josh Cullen.
Cullen attempted to play out from the back, but Pavard immediately intercepted his pass to Jason Knight, and Pavard then unleashed a tremendous 20-yard shot into the net off the goal.
When he blasted the first goal, echoes of the Bayern Munich player’s incredible rocket against Argentina at the 2018 World Cup surfaced, but Ireland remained steadfast in their pursuit of a tying goal.
The first shot on goal for France at the Aviva Stadium came from Pavard, but the second attempt almost resulted in another goal. In the 69th minute, substitute Moussa Diaby cut inside onto his left foot and forced goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu into a deft save at full stretch.
The home team fought determinedly to score an equalizer in the final five minutes, but new French number one, Maignan made two incredible stops just before time ran, first stopping Jules Kounde, his own defender, and then blocking Nathan Collins’ header at the 90-second mark.
With six points from their first two games, France is in first place in Group B and the Les Bleus will go to Gibraltar in three months, while Ireland is in fourth place and will play their next match on June 16 in Greece.