Soccer

Kylian Mbappe leads France rout of Kazakhstan to book 2022 World Cup berth

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Defending champions France have booked their place at the 2022 FIFA World Cup after a 8-0 win over Kazakhstan at Parc des Princes on Saturday which also marked the six-year anniversary of the Paris terror attacks which took place as the national team played.

Didier Deschamps’ men have a shot at defending their 2018 world title and it was Kylian Mbappe who stamped their ticket for Qatar at Paris Saint-Germain’s home stadium with a first half hat-trick and an assist on an emotional night with Karim Benzema and Adrien Rabiot tallying after the break.

The result means that France are top of Group D in the UEFA zone with one match left to play against Finland in Helsinki next week with a four-point cushion which means that even a win for the hosts will not remove Les Bleus from top spot.

Fresh from winning the UEFA Nations League in Italy last month, France set about their task with purpose and needed just six minutes to take the lead through Mbappe from a Theo Hernandez assist with Deschamps experimenting with Kingsley Coman at right wing-back.

The opening goal came from the French left flank, but it was the Bayern Munich man who provided the ammunition for the PSG superstar on home turf for the second after a moment of madness from Kazakh goalkeeper Stas Pokatilov.

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If Mbappe’s second was easy enough, the second was far more complex and the 22-year-old completed his treble with a superb header from a perfect Coman cross for the former AS Monaco man’s 22nd senior strike.

Admittedly, it was not the most challenging test for France, but they were ruthlessly efficient in getting the job done and appear to have gotten over their post-UEFA Euro 2020 dip in form which saw them draw consecutively with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Ukraine.

Having dropped six points in total with four of those at Stade de France, it was refreshing to see a hungry home side emerge for the second half and continue to plunder goals with Benzema’s first verified by VAR from a Hernandez cross and the second teed up by Mbappe.

There was even time for substitute Moussa Diaby to have a goal ruled out via VAR before former Parisien Adrien Rabiot crashed home a header from an Antoine Griezmann corner to rub salt into Kazakh wounds before going from maker to taker with a late penalty via VAR to make it seven. Mbappe added a fourth tally in the 87th minute to wrap up a huge night in the French capital city.

Les Bleus could have reached double-digits on the night and looked like they were enjoying a leisurely training session at times but that sort of feelgood factor had looked lightyears away a few months ago and the Nations League triumph appears to have reignited collective belief and confidence.

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France can now look ahead to 2022 with new enthusiasm knowing that they will be considered some of the favorites for the title in Qatar in just over 12 months’ time with fresh credit in the bank after the 2018 success in Russia.


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