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Reliable Giroud strikes again as France beat Iceland

Reliable Giroud strikes again as France beat Iceland
Soccer Football - Euro 2020 Qualifier - Group H - France v Iceland - Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France - March 25, 2019 France's Olivier Giroud scores their second goal REUTERS/Charles Platiau   -   Copyright  CHARLES PLATIAU(Reuters)
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By Julien Pretot

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

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 having begun with a 4-1 victory over Moldova.

Turkey 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 last Friday.

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

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

Didier 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 with a powerful header, Mbappe with a low cross shot and Benjamin Pavard with a long-range half volley came 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 netted 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 that Giroud who earned his 89th cap.

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

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

Griezmann rubbed salt into Iceland’s wounds as he raced into the box before finding the back of the net with a low shot six minutes from time.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Martyn Herman)

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