World Cup 2022 Qualifiers round-up: France ease past Kazakhstan as Spain snatch late win over Georgia
Ousmane Dembele inspired France to a 2-0 victory over Kazakhstan on Sunday in their second match in World Cup qualifying Group D.
Four days after being held 1-1 by Ukraine at the Stade de France, the world champions built their win in the first half with Sergiy Maliy’s own goal adding to Dembele’s opener before Kylian Mbappe missed a second-half penalty.
France moved top of the standings with four points, ahead of Bosnia, who they face away on Wednesday, Ukraine and Finland.
Ukraine host Finland later on Sunday. Kazakhstan have zero points after playing their first game of the campaign.
Only captain Hugo Lloris and Antoine Griezmann remained from the team who started against Ukraine, with the Barcelona forward setting a new record of 45 consecutive starts for Les Bleus.
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He beat the previous mark of Patrick Vieira, who started 44 games in a row between 1999 and 2002.
It was Griezmann’s club team-mate Dembele who broke the deadlock on 20 minutes with a right-footed shot after being set up by Anthony Martial following a defence-splitting pass from Paul Pogba.
Dembele has just returned to the France side, coming on as a second-half substitute against Ukraine more than two years after his previous cap in November 2018.
His third international goal from 23 appearances, his first since a 3-1 friendly win against Italy in June, 2018, came as a welcome boost less than two months before coach Didier Deschamps names his squad for this year’s European Championship.
Les Bleus doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time when Maliy, who had just denied Martial, headed a cross into his own net.
France were never threatened and had a big opportunity to add a third in the 76th minute, but Mbappe’s spot-kick was saved by Aleksandr Mokin.
Spain scrape win over Georgia
Spain striker Dani Olmo snatched a 2-1 win away to Georgia in their World Cup qualifier on Sunday with a stoppage-time strike from outside the area to kick-start his side’s efforts to qualify for Qatar 2022 after a sluggish start.
Georgia thrilled the 15,000 fans in the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena when 20-year-old winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia fired them ahead two minutes before halftime after his side had coasted past a passive visiting defence.
Spain were on course for their first defeat in a World Cup qualifier in 28 years until Ferran Torres levelled in the 56th, sliding in to send a Jordi Alba cross into the roof of the net after Alvaro Morata had failed to connect with the ball.
Luis Enrique’s side pressed for a winner right until the end and finally found one when Olmo let fly from long range and although goalkeeper Giorgi Loria got a hand to the shot it dropped just under the crossbar and into the net.
Georgia’s Levan Shengelia was then sent off moments before the final whistle blew to signal a first victory for Spain in Group B after they drew 1-1 at home to Greece last Thursday.
Spain host Kosovo on Wednesday, while Georgia visit Greece.
Meanwhile, Denmark turned on the style as they thrashed hapless Moldova 8-0 in their World Cup qualifier on Sunday to top Group F, with Kasper Dolberg and Mikkel Damsgaard both scoring twice against the nation ranked 177th in the world.
The Danes went ahead in the 19th minute when Moldova midfielder Catalin Carp pulled down Joachim Andersen and Dolberg sent the penalty low to goalkeeper Stanislav Namasco’s right.
Three minutes later they were two goals up when some dreadful Moldovan defending allowed Andreas Skov Olsen to cut in from the right and set up Damsgaard to poke the ball home, and the winger netted his second seven minutes later.
Fullback Jens Stryger Larsen added a fourth, cutting in from the right before curling the ball int the net with his left foot and Mattias Jensen made it 5-0 six minutes before the break.
Dolberg headed his second early in the second half before substitutes Robert Skov and Marcus Ingvartsen rounded off the scoring to leave the Danes top on six points, with the rest of the group due to play their second games later on Sunday. Moldova have one point from their first two matches.
Elsewhere, Armenia defeated Iceland 2-0 courtesy of goals from Khoren Bayramyan and Tigran Barseghyan.
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