Benjamin Pavard produced another stunning long-range strike for France as they beat Republic of Ireland 1-0 in Euro 2024 qualifying.
France crushed the Netherlands 4-0 in their opening qualifier last week but needed a moment of brilliance from Pavard to seal a hard-fought victory in Dublin.
Pavard famously scored a stunning goal in France’s 4-2 win over Argentina in 2018 in their last 16 win during their victorious World Cup campaign in Russia.
The effort is of lesser significance but one to remember for the Bayern Munich full-back as he picked up six points in two games for France in Group B.
An uneventful first half produced just one shot on target, but the second in the 50th minute sent the traveling French fans into a frenzy.
Josh Cullen’s weak pass was picked up by Pavard who unleashed a ferocious right-footed drive that flew past a helpless Gavin Bazuna and under the crossbar.
Ireland never threatened a reply and were grateful to Bazunu to keep it 1-0 when he made a diving save to deny Moussa Diaby.
Bazunu dipped low to the left to frustrate Adrien Rabiot as France continued to press to put the game beyond doubt and their failure to find a second would have been costly had Mike Maignan not made a fantastic late stop to keep out Nathan Collins’ header. .
Republic of Ireland player ratings (3-4-2-1)
GK: Gavin Bazunu – 6/10 – Made a couple of smart stops to stop France charging into a more dominant lead.
CB: Nathan Collins – 6/10 – Looked like he’d seen a ghost after watching Maignan save his late header. Didn’t do too much wrong in defence.
CB: John Egan – 7/10 – Booked late on for a collision. Led Ireland’s defensive effort with three blocks and clearances apiece.
CB: Dara O’Shea – 6/10 – Had one shot blocked in a promising position. Wanted a penalty for a tussle with Muani but got nothing.
RWB: Seamus Coleman – 7/10 – Considering he’s long in the tooth at this point, 34-year-old Coleman dealt with the threat of Mbappe smartly.
CM: Jayson Molumby – 6/10 – Made some dogged challenges in midfield and only misplaced three of his 34 passes. Not that creative, mind.
CM: Josh Cullen – 5/10 – Set pieces looked dangerous but just couldn’t find their targets. Gave the ball away to Pavard before the defender’s goal.
LWB: Matt Doherty – 6/10 – Did offer a couple of storming runs down the left and recovered the ball five times.
RF: Chiedozie Ogbene – 6/10 – Didn’t get a chance to shoot at goal but his work rate was cheered on noticeably by the Aviva crowd.
LF: Jason Knight – 5/10 – Helped Ireland clog up midfield but both of his shots on goal were blocked.
ST: Evan Ferguson – 6/10 – Held up the ball nicely on occasion to give Ireland a platform but his influence wained and he came off just after the hour.
Adam Idah (65′ for Ferguson) – 5/10
James McClean (77′ for Doherty) – 6/10
Mikey Johnston (77′ for Knight) – 6/10
Alan Browne (78′ for O’Shea) – 6/10
Michael Obafemi (86′ for Molumby) – N/A
Stephen Kenny – 7/10 – Ireland was organised in defence and looked comfortable at points. They were denied what would have been a well-earned point late on, but this display is promising.
France player ratings (4-3-3)
GK: Mike Maignan – 8/10 – Made two big stops late on to stop Ireland claiming a point. Immediately proving his worth as Les Bleus’ new number one.
RB: Benjamin Pavard – 8/10 – Picked up a booking in the first half but picked up the loose ball and smacked in the only goal of the game just after the break. A big performance in his first national team appearance since the World Cup clash with Australia.
CB: Ibrahima Konate – 7/10 – Saw plenty of the ball and was rarely beaten one-v-one.
CB: Dayot Upamecano – 7/10 – Frequently passed France into the final third and snuffed out Ireland’s attacks with a couple of blocks.
LB: Theo Hernandez – 6/10 – Charged up the left in attack but just didn’t get the final ball right.
CM: Antoine Griezmann – 7/10 – Helped France ride out some tough passages of Irish pressure and created a couple of chances in attack.
CM: Eduardo Camavinga – 7/10 – Played some lovely incisive passes early on and was constantly picking up loose possession.
CM: Adrien Rabiot – 7/10 – Didn’t offer the goal threat he has at Juventus recently but was industrious across the pitch and good in the air.
RW: Randal Kolo Muani – 6/10 – Almost set up Giroud early on but was often stopped when dribbling before he could hit top gear.
ST: Olivier Giroud – 6/10 – Had a couple of half-chances but things didn’t fall for him.
LW: Kylian Mbappe – 7/10 – Showed that fearsome drive into the box in attack but France’s passing spluttered throughout and Mbappe’s opportunities suffered as a result,
Moussa Diaby (65′ for Giroud) – 6/10
Jules Kounde (81′ for Pavard) – N/A
Aurelien Tchouameni (81′ for Rabiot) – N/A
Marcus Thuram (90′ for Muani) – N/A
Didier Deschamps – 6/10 – France never got the second goal they needed to truly kill the game off and were indebted to Maignan at the full-time whistle. Deschamps will targeting major improvements in their next outing.
Player of the match – Mike Maignan (France)
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