Mbappe among scorers as France see off Gibraltar in Euro qualifying

By AFP

France’s forward Kylian Mbappe (C) runs with the ball during the UEFA Euro 2024 group B qualification football match between Gibraltar and France at the Algarve stadium in Faro on June 16, 2023. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

Kylian Mbappe netted from a penalty as France eased to a 3-0 win over minnows Gibraltar on Friday to maintain their 100 percent record in Euro 2024 qualifying.

Olivier Giroud gave last year’s World Cup runners-up an early lead in Faro, in Portugal’s Algarve, and Mbappe made it 2-0 from the spot in first-half stoppage time.

The France captain then forced an own-goal from Aymen Mouelhi to complete the scoring after the break, although Les Bleus also hit the woodwork four times.

The result follows wins over the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland in March and leaves France on a maximum nine points from three games in qualifying Group B.

They are three points better off than Greece, who beat Ireland 2-1 in Athens on Friday and have a game in hand.

France host Greece on Monday, while the Netherlands — currently involved in the Nations League finals — have three points from two games.

“The objective was to win and get the job done but we should have scored more goals,” said France coach Didier Deschamps.

“We can always do better and play with more pace but the pitch did not help us.

“I will settle for this and start thinking about Monday which is an important match.”

Mbappe had dominated the headlines in the build-up to this game after confirming he would not extend his contract at Paris Saint-Germain, which expires next year.

That has raised the prospect of PSG selling their superstar in this transfer window, even if the 24-year-old has said he intends to stay with the French champions next season.

He led Deschamps’ team out at the Estadio do Algarve, where Gibraltar are hosting games because they do not boast a stadium of their own up to international standards.

France needed just three minutes to open the scoring in front of a sparse crowd as Giroud headed in from Kingsley Coman’s cross, and Aurelien Tchouameni then became the first visiting player to hit the bar.

Gibraltar, ranked 201st in the world and second-last in Europe ahead of just San Marino, almost drew level in remarkable fashion in the 34th minute when Ayoub El Hmidi tried to lob goalkeeper Brice Samba from just inside the France half.

Samba, making his France debut, was spared embarrassment as the shot landed on the roof of the net.

France got a penalty following a VAR review for a handball by Gibraltar captain Roy Chipolina, and the harsh award was converted by Mbappe.

It was Mbappe’s 12th goal in 12 appearances for France since the start of this season.

Antoine Griezmann hit the post early in the second half before Mouelhi’s own goal arrived in the 78th minute.

Tchouameni and substitute Axel Disasi then both struck the woodwork late on.

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