France put World Cup behind them as Netherlands hammered in qualifying opener


France put World Cup behind them as Netherlands hammered in qualifying opener

Dayot Upemecano scored France's third goal of the game
Dayot Upemecano scored France's third goal of the gameAFP
Kylian Mbappe scored a brace in his first game as the new France captain, as Les Bleus strolled to a 4-0 victory against the Netherlands to kickstart their UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

Preparations for Ronald Koeman’s second coming as Netherlands manager were disrupted by the loss of five players to a virus that ravaged the Oranje camp pre-match, and France showed no signs of a hangover from their World Cup final loss to Argentina.

Mbappe led by example as he teed up Antoine Griezmann, who struck low past Jasper Cillessen from the edge of the area inside the opening two minutes.

Griezmann was showing no signs of his reported frustration at being overlooked for the captaincy, as he turned provider moments later when his free-kick was eventually bundled in by Dayot Upamecano.

The fast start gave France confidence, and Mbappe continued to wreak havoc as he was left unmarked in the penalty area to control Aurelien Tchouameni’s low cross and fire into the bottom corner, putting his country three ahead inside 21 minutes.

Memphis Depay tried to muster a Dutch response and almost pulled a goal back as he slid in to meet Xavi Simons’ cutback, but he sliced the attempt wide.

The Oranje were shellshocked, and they struggled to generate any momentum in the second period, while Depay continued to provide the only potential way back into the game as his free-kick forced Mike Maignan into a diving save.

Opportunities remained few and far between for the Netherlands and Mbappe punished the visitors again in the latter stages, thundering into the bottom corner after he drove into the box, dummied a shot, and rifled through Jurrien Timber’s legs.

There would be further misery for the Dutch in stoppage time, as Memphis Depay saw his penalty saved by Maignan, with the Oranje denied even a consolation on a miserable night at the Stade de France.

The result never looked in question beyond the opening eight minutes, and as the highest-ranked side in Group B, France will be pleased with a strong start against a potential rival for top spot.

It was a nightmare start for Koeman and the Netherlands however, as his second stint in charge began with defeat, just as his first did.

But, Oranje will be confident of turning their fortunes around with a home fixture against Gibraltar up next, while this setback was their first defeat inside 90 minutes since June 2021.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Kylian Mbappe (France)

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