Reliable Giroud does it for France

Olivier Giroud once again proved his reliability for France, netting his 35th international goal as the world champions demolished Iceland 4-0 at home on Monday in their second Euro 2020 qualifier.

Giroud, now alone in third place on France’s all-time scoring list, added to Samuel Umtiti’s early opener in the second half before Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann rounded off a routine win to put France on six points in Group H.

Turkey, who will face Les Bleus in June, emerged as France’s main rivals in the group when they thrashed Moldova 4-0 thanks to a Cenk Tosun double after beating Albania 2-0 away on Friday when France enjoyed a 4-1 victory in Moldova.

Albania have three points, like Iceland, after snatching a 3-0 away win against Andorra.

“We were very efficient against a very defensive-minded side. It’s a source of great satisfaction,” said France coach Didier Deschamps.

Iceland, who have now won only one of their last 17 games, played aggressively but it was not enough to unsettle Les Bleus.

“We knew it would be a tough challenge but their early goal made it even tougher,” said Iceland coach Erik Hamren. “Then when they scored the second we were really in trouble. They’re a top class team.”

Deschamps trusted the same 11 players who started against Moldova and his side made the perfect start with centre back Umtiti heading home Mbappe’s cross after 12 minutes.

Giroud’s powerful header, Mbappe’s low cross-shot and Benjamin Pavard’s long-range half-volley were all close before the interval but Iceland were still a threat.

France keeper Hugo Lloris saved from Birkir Bjarnasson four minutes after the break and that acted as a wake-up call.

Giroud, who now has one more international goal than David Trezeguet, put France in control when he diverted a Pavard cross into the net with his left knee in the 68th minute.

Only Thierry Henry (51) and Michel Platini (41) have scored more goals with Les Bleus than Giroud, who earned his 89th cap.

The Chelsea striker, who has never won over all the France fans, then had a close-range goal disallowed for offside.

France added a third when Mbappe beat goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson with a right-foot effort after being set up by Griezmann after 78 minutes for his 12th goal in 30 appearances.

Griezmann rubbed salt into Iceland’s wounds when he raced into the box to score with a low shot six minutes from time.


Olivier Giroud Iceland France Euro 2020 qualifier 35th international goal

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