France - Gibraltar: record evening and shower of goals for the French team

“A perfect evening

France - Gibraltar: record evening and shower of goals for the French team

“A perfect evening.” Difficult to contradict Kingley Coman, Saturday November 18, after the demonstration of the French football team in the penultimate qualifying match for Euro 2024. If they had already stamped their ticket for the continental competition, which will take place in Germany in the summer of 2024 (June 4 to July 14), the Blues were keen to secure a top seed position. Opposed to a very weak Gibraltar team, in Nice, Antoine Griezmann's partners did much more: they crushed the Rocher team in a clear victory (14-0), the largest in the history of the Blues.

Perfect, then? “No, I expect a lot more from him.” Kylian Mbappé is not easy to unsettle, and the defenders of the Gibraltar team realized this in turn on Saturday evening. But the captain of the France team was taken by surprise when Didier Deschamps reinterpreted the phrase of Luis Enrique, his coach at PSG (after a victory in Ligue 1 against Reims). After the record victory of his troops, which erased those of Zinedine Zidane's partners against Azerbaijan in 1995 (10-0), the French coach had a playful soul. “He knows it, he’s an extraordinary player, he’s capable of doing things that others don’t do,” laughed Didier Deschamps at the microphone of TF1, praising his captain, author of a new hat-trick – and his 300th career goal.

The spectators gathered at the Allianz Riviera in Nice quickly understood that they were going to witness a lone rider. Between the dashing tricolor cowboys, determined to go straight ahead and multiply the goals like a shower of shooting stars, and a Gibraltar team overwhelmed in the 3rd minute – an own goal from Ethan Santos – the gap was too big. “It was a perfect evening. The coach said to have fun this evening, by doing as much as possible,” savored Olivier Giroud, interviewed by the broadcaster after the meeting.

“An extraordinary collective performance”

Substitute, the top scorer in the history of the Blues watched from the bench the first period led vigorously by his partners - two goals in the first five minutes, seven at the break -, before taking his turn in the party. His two goals, at the very end of the match, completed the French success, and allowed France to claim a new record. Didier Deschamps' men did better than Germany against San Marino in 2006 (13-0), and became the first European team to score 14 goals in a qualifying match for a major competition (Euro or European Cup). world).

“We played very well in the first half, and we played very well in the second, even if we could have been more efficient. 14 goals, that’s not bad,” said the Basque technician after the match. In a game where all the attackers shone, from Kylian Mbappé, author of a hat-trick and three assists to Kingley Coman, double scorer, the only downside comes from Warren Zaire-Emery. Having become the youngest French international since 1914, the 17-year-old Parisian scored his first goal for the Blues after a quarter of an hour of play. But he was the victim of a tackle on the ankle while he cocked his shot – which caused defender Ethan Santos to be sent off – the PSG midfielder was unable to celebrate his goal and was forced to come off. “There is no fracture but a big sprain after a gesture of incredible violence,” declared Didier Deschamps after the meeting. I prefer that he remembers his first selection for his first goal rather than for his injury. »

If the start of the second half saw the Blues purring somewhat, and making Gibraltar goalkeeper Dayle Coleing shine, a new shower of goals came to close the game. From Adrien Rabiot to Olivier Giroud, including a sumptuous inspiration from Kylian Mbappé, whose shot 44 meters from the goal surprised the goalkeeper, who was too advanced, all the Blues shone. Only Antoine Griezmann did not score a goal, but the French vice-captain preferred to offer a goal to Olivier Giroud at the very end of the match, when he could have scored.

With fourteen goals scored, a goalkeeper Mike Maignan having only had one ball to put under his gloves, and a seeded place assured at the Euro, the Blues could have puffed out their chests. But like Kylian Mbappé, the French were not mistaken about the abysmal gap separating them from the Gibraltar team, which was reduced to ten after less than twenty minutes of play. “We had the objective to beat this record, the coach had informed us and that's why we remained serious, said the French captain after the meeting. Having scored 300 goals [in his career] is a new milestone for me, but it takes second place. We had an extraordinary collective performance. »

It's up to them to do it again in Athens, Tuesday November 21 (8:45 p.m.), to conclude this hitherto perfect qualifying phase in apotheosis (seven successes in as many matches). “We are not going to go to Greece for a stroll or a visit,” warned Didier Deschamps. As for the ride, it was scheduled for Saturday for his troops.