September 7, 2019 / 9:08 PM / 13 days ago

Coman double helps France beat Albania to stay top of Group H

PARIS (Reuters) - France stayed in command of their Euro 2020 qualifying group as Kingsley Coman’s double and goals from Olivier Giroud and debutant Jonathan Ikone earned them a 4-1 home win against Albania on Saturday.

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 Qualifier - Group H - France v Albania - Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France - September 7, 2019 France's Kingsley Coman scores their first goal REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

The world champions, who conceded a late penalty converted by Sokol Cikalleshi, have 12 points from five games in Group H and lead second-placed Turkey on goal difference after they beat Andorra 1-0 with a last-gasp Ozan Tufan goal.

Iceland are third, also on 12 points, after claiming a routine 3-0 victory against Moldova.

France next face Andorra at the Stade de France on Tuesday when Albania take on Iceland and Turkey travel to Moldova.

“It was a good game, personally and collectively, I’m happy for the team,” said Coman.

“We worked hard, we were focused from start to finish and it’s a logical result.”

Kickoff was delayed by 10 minutes after the Andorran anthem was mistakenly played instead of the Albanian one at the Stade de France but Les Bleus were then quickly into the action.

Coman, one of four Bayern Munich players starting in the absence of the injured Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe, collected a fine through ball from Raphael Varane and slotted home from close range after eight minutes.

Giroud doubled the tally in the 27th, wrongfooting keeper Thomas Strakosha from Lucas Hernandez’s pinpoint cross.

Antoine Griezmann then smashed a penalty against the crossbar but France were never threatened in a one-sided encounter.

Coman was at it again after the break, netting his second with a low shot on the turn from Griezmann’s pass in the 68th.

He was replaced by Ikone, who had an immediate impact.

The Lille striker, who has yet to score for his club this season, burst into the area and rounded off the move with a cool finish at the second opportunity.

Albania grabbed a consolation goal in the last minute when Cikalleshi converted a penalty after he was brought down by Hugo Lloris.

Slideshow (8 Images)

Turkey, who seemed to be heading for a disappointing draw against Andorra, turned it around when Tufan headed home one minute from fulltime, denying the visitors their first-ever European Championship qualifying point.

It was Andorra’s 55th defeat in as many Euro qualifying games.

Turkey beat France 2-0 in June and the return encounter at the Stade de France on Oct. 14 could prove to be a group decider.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis

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