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France Beat Netherlands 4-0 in World Cup 2018 Qualifier

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2017

France's midfielder Thomas Lemar celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying football match France vs Netherlands at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on August 31, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

France moved atop Group A in World Cup qualifying play on Thursday evening with a dominating 4-0 win over the Netherlands.

Thomas Lemar earned a brace in just his second international start, while Antoine Griezmann added a goal and an assist for France and Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to add a goal of his own as France utterly dismantled a Dutch team playing with just 10 men for the majority of the second half.

Bulgaria's 3-2 victory over Sweden not only left France alone at the top of Group A on 16 points, it moved Bulgaria into third place in the group on 12 points, while the Dutch slid down to fourth on 10.

For as brilliant as France were in this contest, the Dutch were just as poor, as football announcers Arlo White of NBC Sports and Ian Darke of ESPN noted: 

Arlo White @arlowhite

Mbappe makes it 4. France brilliant coming forward. Netherlands are imposters in that orange shirt. 🇫🇷4-0🇳🇱

Ian Darke @IanDarke

Netherlands missed Euros. Could miss World Cup too. Being torn to shreds and 0-4 down v France.

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It didn't take France long to take the lead. After a Dutch turnover in their own half, Griezmann charged forward before playing a lovely one-two with Olivier Giroud at the edge of the box. That left the Atletico superstar alone in the box, and he promptly nutmegged goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen for the game's first goal.

Kevin Strootman's sending off on a second yellow card in the 61st minute further hampered the Dutch chances. They had their opportunities in the second half, however, including a free header in the box for Arjen Robben in the 69th minute.

But it was France who would secure the game's next goal.

Lemar ended things in the 73rd minute, smashing a pristine half-volley that found the inside of the net past a helpless Cillessen. It was a stroke of pure class from the young Monaco star, who scored his first international goal in the process.

The floodgates only opened from there.

In the 88th minute, France pounced on the counter, with Griezmann leading a charge with Lemar and Alexandre Lacazette and only Cillessen between them and the goal. Griezmann had only to slide a cross through the box and the only question was whether Lemar or Lacazette would tap home. Lemar beat Lacazette to it, earning his brace.

As joyous as the day was for French supporters, Lemar's huge performance surely was painful for Arsenal supporters, as the club's late push to acquire the Monaco starlet reportedly fell through

B/R Football @brfootball

Arsene Wenger when he sees Thomas Lemar’s 🔥 goal for France tonight... https://t.co/deHQdJSVSS

Mbappe made it four in added-on time, charging down the pitch before finding Djibril Sidibe, who pulled it back for Mbappe. The new PSG man made the most of his opportunity, capping off an effervescent performance from France.

It was an impressive showing from France's young talent and the team in general. The French are brimming with talent, and there should be little doubt that they'll be one of the favorites at the 2018 World Cup. The Dutch, meanwhile, remain in danger of missing the World Cup entirely, which would be a bitter disappointment for a country with such a rich footballing tradition.

There is still the matter of finishing qualifying, of course. Up next for France is a matchup against Luxembourg on Sept. 3, while the Dutch face Bulgaria that same day.

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