The Republic of Ireland made a losing start to Euro 2024 qualifying as Benjamin Pavard’s superb second-half goal gave France victory in Dublin.
Having held the French in a first half of few chances, the Republic fell behind five minutes after the restart when Pavard intercepted a Josh Cullen pass and fired past Gavin Bazunu.
The Republic put the beaten World Cup finalists under severe pressure late on but fell short as Mike Maignan’s stunning save denied Nathan Collins a late leveller.
The Republic’s next qualifier sees them travel to Greece on 16 June.
But while the Irish must wait nearly three months to try and get points on the board, France are already well on their way to qualifying for next year’s finals in Germany after backing up their rout of the Netherlands with a narrow win in front of a raucous Dublin crowd.
While Les Bleus blew the Dutch away on Friday with three goals inside the opening 22 minutes, they were gifted the winner at the Aviva Stadium as Pavard punished a sloppy pass in devastating fashion with a brilliant right-footed shot.
From there, many would have expected the French to coast to three points but with Didier Deschamps’ side unable to find a second, the Irish pushed for what would have been an impressive point.
And they would have earned a draw had it not been for Maignan, who produced a series of impressive stops to outshine his more illustrious team-mates and leave the Irish frustrated.