Giroud strike enough for France in Iceland
Olivier Giroud was France's hero as he scored the FIFA World Cup winners' goal in the 1-0 triumph in Iceland on Friday that keeps the world champions on course to reach UEFA EURO 2020.
Friday, 11 October, 2019
UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifying
Iceland 0-1 France
No team had won in Iceland for six years, so Didier Deschamps' men — who were without the injured Kylian Mbappé, Paul Pogba and Hugo Lloris — knew their task would be a tough one. It was made all the more difficult as Lucas Hernandez was not deemed fit enough to start and Ngolo Kanté's injury in the warm-up required a further reshuffle.
Ex-Toulouse FC man Moussa Sissoko started for the visitors, but the late change was evened out when Iceland forward Johan Gudmundsson was forced off with injury with barely 15 minutes on the clock.
France dominated possession, but it was not until just before half-time they managed to trouble Hannes Halldorsson in the home goal even if he had little difficulty in fielding Antoine Griezmann's miscued shot (42').
Ben Yedder chance
Halldorsson beat out a long-range shot from the Barcelona forward soon after the interval (50') before Griezmann sent a shot across the face of the home goal (54') by means of a warning of what was to come.
Normally Griezmann would have taken the penalty himself after he had been fouled by Ari Skulason (64'), but the man who had missed his last two international spot-kicks had not sufficiently recovered from the challenge so Giroud fired home instead (66').
Griezmann did sting Halldorsson's palms soon after (68') and Blaise Matuidi struck a post following fine approach play from Kingsley Coman (78') before substitute Wissam Ben Yedder was only denied France's second by a brilliant stop from Halldorsson (82').
THE PLAYER: Olivier Giroud
His place at Chelsea may be in doubt, but — as Deschamps himself stated pre-match — he remains a potent weapon for his country. He now has 37 goals in 94 international appearances, just four fewer than Michel Platini and 14 shy of all-time leading scorer Thierry Henry.
THE STAT: 9
France have not lost any of their last nine games in which Steve Mandanda has started, winning six of them with the Olympique de Marseille captain in goal.