David vs Goliath
The third-placed nation in the world, France, faced the 125th ranked team, Kazakhstan. France needed to win the game to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The defending champions wanted to seal qualification with one game to spare. Didier Deschamps continued with his new standard back three while the Kazakhs came in a back five. The Kazakhs are last in the group with nowhere to go but the bottom. The French have not failed to qualify for the World Cup since 1981, while their counterparts had not qualified for the competition since becoming a sovereign nation. It was a mismatch and more.
Within the first 12 minutes, France had already put two goals past Kazakhstan. Kylian Mbappé scored his 20th and 21st international goals. The first was a smart finish as he opened his body to turn in a good cross from Theo Hernandez after Karim Benzema released him down the line. The second came from a Kazakh corner. Hugo Lloris gathered the corner comfortably before releasing 23-year-old-Sevilla defender Jules Koundé. He released Kingsley Coman, and goalkeeper Stas Pokatilov came out and never looked like getting there. The Bayern Munich winger crossed for Mbappé’s second.
The third came via the same route as the second. Kingsley Coman was making a meal of Maksat Taykenov, and he skipped him before crossing for the 22-year-old Mbappé to head home. A first international hattrick, a first-half hattrick, and goal number 22 for Les Bleus. It was the Mbappé show. He was feeling comfortable at home at Parc des Princes, the stadium of his club PSG. France 3-0 Kazakhstan.
If the Kazakhs were going to get a goal, it would have to come through Oralkhan Omirtayev. He had two tame shots that didn’t trouble Lloris. The second was from a brilliant set-piece routine, but it did not pay off. France was too strong and too good. N’Golo Kanté was mopping up everything and driving the team forward. Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann were combining deliciously, and Coman was dancing. It finished 3-0 at halftime.
The thumping continued in the second half as Karim Benzema scored twice in four minutes. Lucas Hernandez released his brother Theo down the line, and the AC Milan left-back crossed for the Real Madrid striker to finish. The second came when Mbappé graciously passed back to Benzema to score despite having a good opportunity to score. France 5-0 Kazakhstan.
Les Bleus hit the bar as an Mbappé cross was nearly turned in by Temirlan Erlanov. It was a brilliant save from Pokatilov that stopped it. Moussa Diaby came on for Benzema and had the ball in the net after 30 seconds, but Mbappé was offside in the buildup. It didn’t matter as Adrien Rabiot headed an Antoine Griezmann corner in on 75. Pokatilov saved from Mbappé before touching Koundé’s header over. Vladislav Vasilyev then stamped on the back of Griemann’s leg and gave away a penalty. The Atletico Madrid striker dispatched it to make it France 7-0 Kazakhstan.
Diaby then set up Mbappé. The PSG attacker powered past Nuraly Alip before slamming home. 8-0, it ended. France qualifies for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. A record defeat for the Kazakhs.