PARIS (Reuters) – France were without three key world champions but still cruised past Euro 2020 qualifier rivals Albania and Andorra.
Midfielders Paul Pogba and Ngolo Kante, as well as start striker Kylian Mbappe, missed the games through injuries but their absence was barely felt as Les Bleus scored seven goals in two outings.
Kingsley Coman emerged as the biggest winner of the long weekend, netting three times and proving a constant threat in man-of-the-match performances at the Stade de France. The Bayern Munich forward’s devilish pace, inspiration and eye for goal have put him in prime position to at least become Didier Deschamps’s favourite substitute at the 16-team championship next year, should France qualify.
“I’m not going to complain that I have an extra solution,” Deschamps said of Coman, who missed out on the 2018 World Cup in a year marred by injuries.
“He was already with us at Euro 2016, and he was already performing. What he’s got now is an eye for goal and he showed it with Bayern and in these two games.”
Coman, 23, scored one goal and set up two in three Bundesliga games this season. His three goals in a 4-1 win against Albania and the 3-0 defeat of Andorra took his France tally to four goals in 19 games.
Other forwards took their chance to shine, too.
Lille forward Jonathan Ikone came off the bench against Albania to score on his debut and he was also brilliant against Andorra, setting up Coman for the first goal
“He’s a young player who can improve a lot. He made the most of the time he had, it’s important to be decisive,” said Deschamps of the 21-year-old.
Monaco striker Wissam Ben Yedder had less time to shine, but he took full advantage of 20 minutes against Andorra to find the back of the net in stoppage time.
France are level on 15 points with Turkey in Group H, second by virtue of their Istanbul defeat last June despite a better goal difference.
They now face two potentially decisive clashes against Iceland in Reykjavik and Turkey at the Stade de France.