France Continues Perfect Start to UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying with Narrow Win Over Ireland

France extended their perfect start to UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying by edging Republic of Ireland 1-0 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin – continuing an unbeaten H2H streak that stretches back to October 1981.

An emphatic 4-0 drubbing of the Netherlands perhaps inspired France to attack the Boys in Green in the early going, as captain Kylian Mbappé rallied his team forward in search of the opener. The Irish rearguard stood strong though, deflecting the French siege, largely thanks to the experience of veteran full-backs Séamus Coleman and Matt Doherty, who succeeded in keeping the opposition wingers at bay.

Ireland were no pushovers at the back, but neither were they adept enough to string together a sequence of passes or make a difference going forward on the counter in the latter minutes of the first period. Remarkably, neither side registered a single shot on target before the HT whistle came calling, leaving both Stephen Kenny and Didier Deschamps to ponder tactical changes in their respective dressing rooms.

Of the two, Deschamps gained the upper hand just five minutes after the restart, with Benjamin Pavard piledriving an inch-perfect long range effort in off the crossbar to stun the Aviva Stadium. A response was now needed as the hosts looked to threaten Mike Maignan for the first time in the match. Ireland gradually pushed ahead in search of the equaliser, but to no avail, as France nullified any Irish advances with great composure. Instead, the hosts came close to conceding from Moussa Diaby’s low drive, which was masterfully averted by Gavin Bazunu to keep his side in contention for the leveller.

However, despite being forced into a brace of remarkable late saves, Maignan protected his clean sheet – a fourth in seven international appearances – as Deschamps’ men held on. The narrow victory means Les Bleus have now won their last three European qualification matches to nil, whereas Ireland’s search for a first Euro qualification since 2016 takes an initial blow, although a narrow margin of defeat against such an illustrious opponent may inspire confidence they can return to the international tournament stage.

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