Kylian Mbappe scored four and set up another as France thrashed Kazakhstan 8-0 to seal their place at the 2022 World Cup with ease.

Going into Saturday's Group D fixture knowing a win would ensure their spot in Qatar, the reigning world champions had little trouble in brushing aside a team placed 122 places below them in FIFA's latest rankings.

Mbappe starred on his Paris Saint-Germain stomping ground, with two superb first-time finishes paving the way for him to wrap up his hat-trick with a fantastic header before he then teed up Karim Benzema after the break.

Benzema had made it 4-0 just four minutes prior, with Adrien Rabiot and Antoine Griezmann getting in on the act before Mbappe fairly had the final say in an emphatic victory.

It took just six minutes for Mbappe to get Les Bleus rolling with a cushioned, side-foot volley from Theo Hernandez's cutback.

Another six minutes followed before Mbappe struck again, drilling home after Kingsley Coman - playing at right wing-back - had got beyond the hapless Stas Pokatilov, who had rushed out of goal wildly.

Mbappe's hat-trick was completed by the 32nd minute, the forward rising between two static defenders to head in brilliantly from Coman's inch-perfect cross.

Hernandez levelled with Coman for assists when he laid it up for Benzema to prod in at the near post, and the Real Madrid striker was soon celebrating again when he finished into an empty goal after playing a delightful one-two with Mbappe.

Pokatilov managed to prevent Maksat Taykenov bundling into his own net, with Moussa Diaby denied a goal for offside before Rabiot's close-range finish.

Vladislav Vassiljev's ludicrously late challenge on Griezmann was penalised on a VAR review, with the Atletico Madrid forward converting the resulting spot-kick before Mbappe's crisp finish finally rounded off the scoring.

Ousmane Dembele is proving he is "on the right track" after the Barcelona winger scored in France's 2-0 defeat of Kazakhstan.

After drawing against Ukraine in their opening World Cup qualifier, the reigning world champions moved top of Group D in comfortable fashion on Sunday.

Dembele opened the scoring with a goal laid on by Martial, before Kazakhstan defender Sergiy Maliy put through his own net.

It marked France's seventh straight away win – their best run since January 1990 to October 1991.

Dembele, who has enjoyed a resurgence at Barca this season following several injury-hit campaigns at Camp Nou, was replaced by Kingsley Coman in the 90th minute, having created one chance and had two shots, both of which hit the target.

Martial teed up Dembele's goal – the only key pass played by the Manchester United forward, who had three attempts (two on target) before going off with an apparent injury in the 59th minute.

His replacement was Kylian Mbappe, and the Paris Saint-Germain star went on to have as many attempts as Martial, though one of those was a penalty he saw saved by Alexandr Mokin.

Asked for his thoughts on the displays of Dembele and Martial, Deschamps told a news conference: "They did some interesting things. 

"Ousmane confirmed that he is on the right track. He is capable of repeating efforts and of differing his play. He was rewarded with this goal. 

"Anthony is behind the first goal. It's good for both. From the moment I take them [in the squad] it is to use them. I have other attackers, but compared to the profile of the opponent, it was important to provoke and to dribble [at the opposition]. They did it pretty well."

Deschamps also stressed he has few concerns over France's somewhat laboured performances across their last two fixtures.

"Everyone is free to wait for what they want. The France team is efficient and continues to be," he said. 

"We do a lot of good things. There were no big scores [on Saturday] either. It is not easy for anyone. There is the opponent, the sequence of matches, plus everything that came before. These are not excuses. I told the players to do the job, to win. We won.

"There were nine new players from the match against Ukraine, but they already had experience. I'm not going to take away the credit. The qualifying games are always difficult, the main thing is to reach our goals."

Kylian Mbappe missed a second-half penalty but a much-changed France still coasted to a 2-0 win away to Kazakhstan in World Cup qualifying.

Les Bleus were punished for wasteful finishing in their opening Group D game against Ukraine on Thursday, allowing their opponents – who failed to manage a shot on target – to grab a 1-1 draw through Presnel Kimpembe's own goal.

However, there was to be no repeat on Sunday as the reigning champions registered a first win in Group D at the second attempt.

Ousmane Dembele gave the visitors a 19th-minute lead in Astana, accepting a pass from Anthony Martial before firing a low shot across goalkeeper Alexandr Mokin for a rare international goal.

Kazakhstan defended in stoic fashion for the remainder of the first half until unfortunately falling further behind just before the interval, France doubling their advantage thanks to an own goal.

Having impressively denied Martial from scoring with a superb last-gasp clearance, poor Sergiy Maliy – preoccupied with marking Paul Pogba – then headed the resulting corner into his net.

Antoine Griezmann – who, along with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, retained his place in the starting XI – had a goal ruled out for offside early in a second half that saw Martial forced off with an apparent injury sustained while playing on a synthetic surface.

Replacement Mbappe offered a far greater threat during a cameo appearance off the bench, including drawing a foul from the combination of Nuraly Alip and Temirlan Erlanov inside the area.

However, the Paris Saint-Germain forward was unable to capitalise on the opportunity from 12 yards out, Mokin guessing correctly as he dived to his left to turn away the spot-kick attempt.

What does it mean? Job done, despite laboured display

There may have been a concern that France were in danger of history being repeated when they struggled to build on Dembele's opener, despite controlling proceedings. They coasted in the second half too, yet still ended up having 15 shots – nine of which were on target.

Still, qualifying is about results, rather than performances. Considering the long journey and the artificial pitch, collecting three points was all that mattered.

Dembele shows Deschamps what he can do

Ahead of the trio of international fixtures in March, Deschamps had challenged the recalled Dembele to be a more consistent contributor, both for club and country.

The Barcelona forward certainly made a difference against Kazakhstan, moving into double figures for goals in the 2020-21 season when opening the scoring with a crisp finish.

Missed opportunity for Martial

Martial looked certain to grab just his second international goal from Thomas Lemar's chipped cross, yet Maliy stretched out a leg to somehow send the ball over the crossbar.

Instead of being able to celebrate scoring, he finished the game with concerns over his fitness. In 59 minutes, Martial completed 78.3 per cent of his attempted passes and had three shots, two of which were on target. There was also the assist for Dembele too, yet Mbappe was far more prominent following his introduction.

What's next?

Both teams are back in qualifying action on Wednesday. France have a trip to Sarajevo to take on Bosnia-Herzegovina, while Kazakhstan head on the road as they travel to Ukraine

Didier Deschamps acknowledges a five-hour time difference and a synthetic pitch will make life difficult for France in Kazakhstan, but believes the world champions "have an obligation to get a result".

Sunday's early World Cup qualifier takes Les Bleus to Astana four days on from a disappointing 1-1 home draw against Ukraine.

France can ill afford another slip up but face potentially tricky opponents in Kazakhstan, who have not yet played their first match but enjoyed their most successful European Championship qualifying campaign to date ahead of Euro 2020.

That included a dominant 3-0 home win over Scotland, who ultimately qualified for the finals, in which Kazakhstan had just 41 per cent of the possession but mustered 10 shots - including six on target - and their expected goals total (1.2) was double that of the visitors (0.6).

The jeopardy of Sunday's qualifier goes beyond just the threat of the hosts for France, however, as Deschamps' side also contend with travel, jetlag and an unfamiliar surface.

"With my staff, we know this opponent well," the coach told a news conference. "But the difficulty is the lag, because it can be difficult to find sleep, and a pitch different from those on which players are used to playing.

"It's up to us to make sure we're at our level. A trap? I don't know, but there are additional difficulties, yes."

 

Although Bosnia-Herzegovina and Finland drew, meaning France lost no ground in midweek, a response is required following their frustrating outing in Paris.

Les Bleus had 63 per cent of the possession and 18 shots but only three on target, including Antoine Griezmann's spectacular opener.

Ukraine mustered a meagre three attempts, one of which decisively deflected in off Presnel Kimpembe for an own goal.

"Even with a better result, we would have had the same obligation [in Astana] against an opponent who has nothing to lose," Deschamps said.

"It's up to us to do the job, and more than pressure, we have an obligation to get a result.

"The pressure was greater in the Euro qualifiers, when we went to Andorra just after our defeat in Turkey, with the same specificity of the synthetic pitch.

"On what they have done in recent matches, Kazakhstan are solid and concede few goals. It's never simple anyway."

Meanwhile, captain Hugo Lloris highlighted the potential positives of playing on a synthetic pitch for a France side who trailed only Spain in passes (7,360), successful passes (6,571) and average possession (72 per cent) in Euro 2020 qualifying.

"It promotes the short passing game," he said. "We are going to try to get our bearings as best as we can in the training later [on Saturday].

"And tomorrow [Sunday] we'll try to play and have the maximum of fun.

"We expect a match like against Ukraine, to have the ball in front of a low block. We must put intensity in our passes, in our running.

"The use of the ball will be so important, so to adapt to the synthetic pitch will be very important for tomorrow."

N'Golo Kante is to return to Chelsea on Friday after being ruled out of France's World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Bosnia-Herzegovina with a hamstring injury.

The 29-year-old played the full 90 minutes of Les Bleus 1-1 draw with Ukraine in their opening Group D match at the Stade de France on Wednesday.

However, Kante sustained a minor injury late on in the game and will now be assessed by Chelsea, who have key fixtures to come in three competitions in April.

A statement on the French Football Federation website on Thursday read: "The Chelsea midfielder felt a pain in the hamstrings of the left thigh at the very end of the match against Ukraine.

"He had clinical and radiological examinations on Thursday, which revealed a small lesion.

"In consultation with Doctor Franck Le Gall, national coach Didier Deschamps has decided to put N'Golo Kante back at the disposal of his club on Friday."

Deschamps has opted against calling up a midfield replacement for Kante ahead of the games with Kazakhstan on Sunday and Bosnia-Herzegovina three days later.

Chelsea face West Brom in the Premier League on April 3, before taking on Porto in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on April 7.

Thomas Tuchel's men also have an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City in three weeks' time.

Kante has been used 36 times in all competition by Chelsea this season and was hailed as "world class" by Tuchel earlier this month following a string of impressive displays.

Only two midfielders to have played at least 10 Premier League games this term have made more interceptions per 90 minutes than Kante's 2.56 - Burnley's Josh Brownhill (2.59) and Wilfried Ndidi of Leicester City (2.76).

No other Chelsea regular averages more than two interceptions per game in the competition, Jorginho being next highest with 1.81.

Kante also ranks highly for recoveries, averaging 8.23 per 90 minutes, though that is still some way behind Ndidi's 9.37.

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