Antoine Griezmann, France Top Euro 2020 Group I After Qualifier Win vs. Albania

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IINovember 17, 2019

France's forward Antoine Griezmann celebrates his goal during the Euro 2020 Group H football qualification match between Albania and France at the Air Albania Stadium in Tirana, on November 17, 2019. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

France beat Albania 2-0 on Sunday to seal top spot in Group I in their final UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier.

Didier Deschamps' side went into the game with qualification already assured and took the lead on eight minutes when Corentin Tolisso nodded home Antoine Griezmann's lofted ball into the penalty area.  

The Barcelona forward then doubled the visitors' lead just after the half-hour mark, making a late run into the box and tapping home Leo Dubois' low cross in from the left.

The world champions had chances to extend their lead after the break. Olivier Giroud was twice denied by goalkeeper Etrit Berisha and also hit the post as the world champions signed off with a win.

Manager Didier Deschamps took charge of France for the 100th time and made changes to his team as expected. Striker Kylian Mbappe and midfielder N'Golo Kante were the biggest names to drop out, with Wissam Ben Yedder, Benjamin Mendy and Dubois all coming into the starting XI:

Yet it was Albania who created the first chance of the game inside two minutes. A throw-in into the box caused danger and goalkeeeper Steve Mandanda allowed the ball to bounce before claiming ahead of striker Bekim Balaj.

France wasted little time in taking the lead. A foul on Mendy outside the box saw Griezmann swing the ball into the penalty area for Tolisso to head past goalkeeper Berisha, as shown by Sky Sports Football (UK only):

Opta noted how it was Griezmann's seventh assist of the qualifying campaign:

Griezmann then doubled France's lead on 31 minutes. Dubois did well to find space in the penalty area and cross for the Barcelona forward to send a first-time finish low into the bottom corner:

France should have had a third before half-time. Defender Clement Lenglet powered a Griezmann header over the bar when well-placed and under little pressure.

Albania went close to pulling one back at the start of the second half. Elseid Hysaj fired in a low cross for Berat Djimsiti to poke wide on the stretch from close range.

Griezmann and Giroud then combined for a shooting chance at the other end. The Chelsea striker managed to get his effort on target, but Berisha parried the ball to safety.

Albania needed Berisha to save again from Giroud with an hour played, this time on the half-volley. The striker then went agonisingly close again with a curling effort that hit the inside of the post and bounced to safety.

France could not conjure up another goal but were good value for the three points that ensure they finish in top spot, two points clear of Turkey.

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