REYKJAVIK (AFP) – Depleted France needed an Olivier Giroud penalty to edge past Iceland 1-0 and keep pace with Turkey in their Euro 2020 Group H qualifier in Reykjavik early yesterday.
With key duo Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba both out injured, the world champions mustered just enough to end the evening on 18 points, level with leaders Turkey and six ahead of Iceland with three games to go.
France now host Turkey in a crunch game at the Stade de France on Tuesday, having suffered a 2-0 defeat in Ankara in June.
“That’s a good win ahead of the big match we’re all expecting (against Turkey),” said coach Didier Deschamps after his 200th match with France – 97 of those coming in the dugout.
“It wasn’t easy, they were dangerous, even if we had several chances to score again.”
After a torrid night for Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann, whom the compact Iceland defence niggled away at continually, the referee awarded a penalty for a sneaky kick on 66 minutes.
Despite little playing time at Chelsea this season, Giroud retains the faith of Deschamps and the 33-year-old fired a sure strike past Hannes Halldorsson with a confident spot-kick.
“It was a tough match but a good game from the whole team gave us the three points. Now we have a big home game against Turkey,” said Griezmann.
“We suffered over there so we’ll have to be ready.”