- France hosted Republic of Ireland in Paris in the Euro 2024 qualifiers
- Ireland needed a win to boost their hopes of qualifying for the tournament next year
- France however continued their impressive form in the qualifiers to hit a dent on the Republic of Ireland
Aurelien Tchouameni and Marcus Thuram delivered a crushing blow to the Republic of Ireland aspirations for the Euro 2024, leaving them teetering on the brink of elimination. In a routine 2-0 victory in Paris, France continued their flawless qualification campaign in Group B.
This result meant that Ireland had only managed to amass three points from their initial four matches, a fact that puts enormous pressure on their upcoming clash with the Netherlands in Dublin – a match that could effectively seal their fate in the competition.
Despite the organized and tenacious efforts of Stephen Kenny’s men, Ousmane Dembele’s tormenting of Enda Stevens proved to be their Achilles’ heel. Stevens, who struggled to contain Dembele, was replaced at halftime, and although Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann brought joy to the home crowd, they failed to create enough problems for the French team.
There was a momentary exception when Chiedozie Ogbene’s header forced an impressive save from French goalkeeper Mike Maignan.
Prior to the match, much was made in France about Ireland’s goalkeeper, Gavin Bazunu, and his alleged vulnerability to long-range shots. However, Bazunu had little chance to stop Tchouameni’s expertly struck 19th-minute shot, and he was left exposed when substitute Thuram extended France’s lead just three minutes into the second half.
Although the outcome of this match in Paris was unlikely to be the defining moment of their campaign, Ireland had already been dealt a blow in June with a defeat in Greece. Another loss against the Dutch would effectively extinguish any remaining hope of qualification.
France started the game with determination, with Adrien Rabiot testing Bazunu’s reflexes early on. John Egan made a crucial block to deny Olivier Giroud, and Mbappe had an opportunity from a corner but couldn’t find the target. Bazunu breathed a sigh of relief when Griezmann’s free-kick evaded everyone and was cleared.
However, the breakthrough came in the 23rd minute when Tchouameni curled a sublime shot past Bazunu from 25 yards out after Mbappe recycled a loose ball.
Giroud’s departure due to injury led to Thuram’s introduction, and with Mbappe dropping deeper to collect the ball, Ireland found themselves under relentless pressure. Their only meaningful outlet came through Ogbene’s occasional but largely unsupported runs down the right flank.
Mbappe attempted a speculative shot that was comfortably saved by Bazunu, and an offside flag came to the Irish keeper’s rescue after Mbappe poked the ball through his legs in the 42nd minute.
At halftime, Stevens made way for James McClean, but Ireland’s hopes were dashed just three minutes into the second half when Thuram capitalized on a loose ball to rifle a shot into the roof of the net.
With little to lose, Ireland adopted a more adventurous approach, but their vulnerability at the back was exposed. Ogbene’s header could have reduced the deficit, but Maignan produced a brilliant save. Shortly after, Luton striker Adam Idah’s left-footed shot narrowly missed the target.
As Ireland pushed forward, they became increasingly susceptible to French attacks. A late offside flag spared Mbappe’s blushes after he missed the target in a one-on-one situation with Bazunu. The Irish keeper then showcased his skills by parrying another powerful Tchouameni strike 23 minutes from time.
Dembele rattled the upright with a fierce effort from a tight angle, but France was content with their comfortable lead. Ireland’s resilient defense, combined with a series of ineffective final balls and a missed opportunity by Thuram, prevented further damage to the visitors.