Kingsley Coman bags a brace as France put four past Albania
Their superior goal difference – four better than Turkey’s and nine better than Iceland’s – is what is keeping the world champions in first place.
A weakened France side scored four goals for the fourth time in five Euro 2020 qualifiers as the Group H leaders swept aside Albania 4-1.
Their superior goal difference – four better than Turkey’s and nine better than Iceland’s – is what is keeping the world champions in first place as all three teams are level on 12 points.
Even without the injured Paul Pogba, and with Kylian Mbappe watching from the stands, there was little concern for the hosts as Kingsley Coman scored twice, with Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud and debutant Jonathan Ikone also on target.
In fact the biggest issue of the night up until the minute Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris conceded a 90th-minute penalty from which Sokol Cikalleshi scored, came before kick-off.
The start of the match was delayed by seven minutes as the Stade de France public address system played the national anthem of Andorra – visitors next week – and Albania refused to begin until the error was rectified.
If that angered the visitors it did not manifest itself on the pitch as they were cut apart inside eight minutes when Raphael Varane slid a pass down the channel between centre-backs Mergim Mavraj and Berat Djimsiti and Coman cut in from the right to score at the near post.
Giroud missed a close-range header but his goal was not long in coming as another Varane pass, this time crossfield, was flicked on by Antoine Griezmann for Lucas Hernandez to tee up the Chelsea striker.
Griezmann blasted a 36th-minute penalty against the crossbar after Mavraj brought down Hernandez and the Barcelona forward was denied by the goalkeeper’s legs after half-time after starting and finishing an intricate move on the edge of the penalty area.
He did, however, provide the cross for Coman to spin his marker Elseid Hysaj and convert his second.
Five minutes from time Ikone exchanged passes with fellow substitute Nabil Fekir to make it four before Lloris’ rush of blood saw Albania score a consolation.