France took a giant stride towards the Euro 2024 finals as they maintained their perfect qualifying record with a 2-0 home victory over Ireland on Thursday.

Playing at the Parc des Princes to preserve the Stade de France pitch for Friday’s Rugby World Cup opener between France and New Zealand, Les Bleus prevailed thanks to goals by Aurelien Tchouameni and Marcus Thuram in a one-sided match.

Their fifth win in as many games strengthened their lead in Group B with a maximum 15 points, nine ahead of the Netherlands, who beat Greece 3-0 and have played two fewer matches.

“I can’t complain. We’re not qualified yet but so far it’s been a good campaign. It was not always easy to find the solutions and we could have scored more goals,” coach Didier Deschamps said.

France face Germany in Dortmund on Tuesday in a friendly before resuming their qualifying campaign with a trip to the Netherlands on Oct. 13.

France suffocated Ireland in midfield and were rewarded for their domination on 19 minutes when Tchouameni’s 18-metre strike from Kylian Mbappe’s delicate touch found the back of the net.

Giroud limped off the pitch and was replaced by Marcus Thuram before having his left ankle iced.

Thuram made his presence count as he doubled the advantage with a shot on the turn after Mbappe’s attempt had been deflected into his path three minutes into the second half, his first goal for France.

“I could have scored another but I hope it will come in the next game,” said Thuram, whose father Lilian scored his only two goals for Les Bleus in the semi-final against Croatia on their way to winning the 1998 World Cup.

Mike Maignan pulled off a brilliant save to deny Chiedozie Ogbene, ensuring France have yet to concede a goal in their qualifying campaign.

Tchouameni came close with another fierce shot but Gavin Bazunu parried it away.

Ousmane Dembele, who tortured the Irish defence in the first half with his dazzling runs, also missed a chance to add a third when his shot struck the post.

Deschamps made changes to give his substitutes game time with Kingsley Coman and William Saliba replacing Dembele and Lucas Hernandez before Eduardo Camavinga and Benjamin Pavard came on for Antoine Griezmann and Jules Kounde.

Early Dutch blitz sinks Greece

Three first-half goals secured the Netherlands a comfortable 3-0 win over Greece in a European Championship qualifier on Thursday.

Marten de Roon, Cody Gakpo and Wout Weghorst scored as the Dutch won their second match in Group B, showing much improvement after crashing out of the Nations League finals they hosted in June.

They now have six points, ahead of Greece on goal difference, behind leaders France who have won five out of five.

The Dutch victory came after coach Ronald Koeman had challenged his team to show more of a steely edge after losing three of four games since he took charge at the start of the year.

De Roon scored the first goal after 17 minutes as he thumped home a ball headed down by Denzel Dumfries from a corner to register his first international goal.

Gakpo was unmarked at the back post as the Greek defence was badly exposed and finished off a clever cross from Dumfries, who completed a hat-trick of assists as he provided Weghorst with a chipped cross to head home with a diving effort in the 39th minute.

Dumfries could have had a goal of his own but was denied by the post in the 36th minute while Xavi Simons’ swerving shot in the 28th minute produced a miraculous one-handed stop from Greek goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos.

The second half was light on chances but the damage was done as the Greeks suffered their heaviest defeat since Gustavo Poyet took over as coach some 18 months ago.

The Dutch face a key qualifier in Dublin on Sunday against Ireland, who lost 2-0 to France on Thursday. Greece host Gibraltar in Athens on Sunday.