N’Golo Kante helped France to qualify for next year’s World Cup by thrashing Kazakhstan, and Ethan Ampadu’s Wales gave their chances of joining them a boost with a big win of their own.
Kante was named in Didier Deschamps' starting line-up for the first time since Euro 2020, after injury and illness kept him out of international contention, as they hosted Kazakhstan in Paris, knowing victory would guarantee their place at Qatar 2022 with a game to spare.
It was clearly an opportunity they weren’t going to let slip through their fingers in an emotional Stade de France, on the sixth anniversary of the night Paris was rocked by terrorist attacks, including two bombs outside the same stadium during an international fixture against Germany, with tributes to the victims being paid before kick-off tonight.
When the game began, it took France just six minutes to open the scoring through Kylian Mbappe, the first of four goals the Paris Saint-Germain forward would get on the night as Les Bleus turned on the style, the Paris Saint-Germain forward becoming the first person to score four times in a game for France since Just Fontaine in 1958.
They were three goals ahead at half-time and it was 5-0 when Kante made way to be replaced by Aurelien Tchouameni in the 71st minute with the job well done, but there was still time for France to underline their superiority and make the final score a massive 8-0, with Karim Benzema, Adrien Rabiot and Antoine Griezmann the others to find the net.
Wales climb to second
Ethan Ampadu, on loan in Italy with Venezia, played the full 90 minutes for Wales as they thrashed Belarus at home to close in on second spot in their World Cup qualifying group.
The versatile midfielder was certainly in the thick of things, receiving a yellow card in the second half in addition to being fouled inside the first minute of the game, but by the third they were ahead through another Welshman playing in Serie A, Aaron Ramsey.
Ramsey netted again after the break and further strikes by Neco Williams, Ben Davies and Connor Roberts made the final score 5-1, despite a late but impressive consolation from Belarus.
Belgium’s win over Estonia guaranteed they will finish top of the group and take the only automatic qualification spot, but Wales moved into second place, three points ahead of the Czech Republic. Ampadu’s side are already assured of a place in the play-offs through the Nations League, but need a draw against Belgium on Tuesday to make sure they stay second and have a chance of a home draw.
Draws and penalty drama for Young Lions
At youth level, Levi Colwill captained England-19s as they earned an important point towards qualification for the European Under-19 Championship. The defender, who is currently on loan at Huddersfield Town, featured throughout against Switzerland, as did forward Harvey Vale. Charlie Webster and Jude Soonsup-Bell were both unused substitutes.
It was Vale who came the closest to breaking the deadlock, forcing a save at the near post from 12 yards, but it was a game of few chances, with the 0-0 scoreline a fair result for both teams. That means another draw against Sweden in England’s final match on Tuesday will guarantee qualification.
Brodi Hughes and Lewis Hall were also involved in a 0-0 draw with England Under-18s, against Belgium in the friendly Pinatar Tournament, but ended up as winners following a penalty shoot-out in Spain. Hughes played a big role in the victory, slotting home the first sudden death penalty in that shoot-out, before substitute goalkeeper Charlie Stetford saved Belgium’s next effort to secure the win.