Defending champions France have reached the 2022 World Cup finals with one game to go after Kylian Mbappe’s four goals helped them demolish Kazakhstan 8-0 in their Group D qualifier on Saturday.
With this result, France lead the group with 15 points from seven games, four ahead of runner-up Finland, who will be in their last game on Tuesday.
Karim Benzema added two goals while Adrien Rabiot and Antoine Griezmann scored one each to crown an impressive performance at Parc des Princes and seal France’s place in next year’s 32-nation tournament in Qatar.
Coach Didier Deschamps praised his bubbly performance and highlighted the French front, which tore the guests apart with crisp one-touch passes.
“The aim was to qualify, but we also did it in style and you could see how much fun the players had playing together and how they shared things, especially the strikers,” he told French TV.
“It’s good, everyone got their piece of the pie. It’s a result that rewards everything we did well in both halves. The risk at halftime is giving in a little, but we kept going, which also means to respect one’s opponent. “
Mbappe, who was instrumental in winning the 2018 tournament in Russia, added: “We wanted to give ourselves the chance to defend our title. Even for those who took part and won it, it is an ultimate dream to play at a World Cup ”.
“The fans enjoyed it, so did we. We respected the game and our opponents. We wanted to continue until the end.”
Deschamps played a 3-4-3 formation with Kingsley Coman as right-back and the offensive strategy resulted in an avalanche of goals as France’s natural talent shone.
The floodgates opened after Mbappe gave France the lead with an excellent first shot in the sixth minute after an assist from Theo Hernandez, with the home side always two gears ahead of the Kazakhs.
Mbappe added the second with an easy finish into an empty net past a defender in the 12th minute after Coman raced down from right, and he completed in the 32nd minute.
The French never took their foot off the pedal after the break and soon increased their lead with two rapid-fire goals from Benzema, who pocketed the fourth after a Hernandez assist before Mbappe became the supplier.
Rabiot scored his first international goal in the 75th minute when he headed in Griezmann’s corner before the latter scored his 42nd.
Three minutes before the end, the brilliant Mbappe put the icing on the cake after a fine presentation by substitute Moussa Diaby with a grandiose finish in the lower right corner, the home crowd was already in full swing.
Benzema was delighted after teaming up with Mbappe to create a devastating effect.
“We showed that we are compatible, that we can play together and have fun while we score goals, score goals and play for the team,” he said. “I’m so happy to have played like this and, above all, to have won.”
Meanwhile, Belgium secured a spot at next year’s World Cup and continued their unbeaten qualifying run in a 3-1 win over Estonia in Brussels on Saturday.
The semi-finalist in Russia 2018 climbed to an unassailable 19 points in Group E after Christian Benteke scored early and Yannick Carrasco and Thorgan Hazard scored goals in the second half.