France kickstarted their World Cup qualification campaign with an unconvincing 2-0 victory over minnows Kazakhstan at the Astana Arena.
Having drawn at home to Ukraine on matchday one last week, a big win was needed. Although the points were secured with minimal fuss, questions over mentality will hardly have been answered here.
Kazakhstan pressed high and forced France to hurry from the start, with Hugo Lloris almost losing control of the ball yards out from his own goal, only to scramble the ball clear.
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As the first half went on, France began to dominate the ball, and though chances were at a premium, they took the lead on 20 minutes when Anthony Martial turned and fed Ousmane Dembele, whose finish was emphatic.
With two minutes to go before half time, France almost doubled their lead. A poor clearance by Aleksandr Mokin was pounced upon and Thomas Lemar was soon bearing down on goal. He chipped the ball goalwards, but before Martial could head home, Sergiy Maliy cleared off the line.
From the resulting corner, though, Maliy put through his own net after grappling with Paui Pogba to give the world champions a cushion at the break.
It was very much more of the same as France laboured well into the second half. Kylian Mbappe's introduction for Martial, who appeared to sustain a knee injury, injected some purpose into their play.
The 22-year-old forced Mokin into a save just moments after he denied Dembele, whose header from point-blank range lacked power.
Mokin's big moment came with 15 minutes remaining, when he pulled off a stunning save to keep out Mbappe's penalty after he was fouled by Nuraly Alip in the area.

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TAKLKING POINT - Les Bleus need to improve before the summer

Didier Deschamps' men will doubtless be among the favourites for Euro 2020, but they are not showing nearly enough to justify that tag right now. This result was needed after Ukraine last week, but there wasn't enough drive to make a statement after an inconsistent run. They'll need to deliver when it matters.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Aleksandr Mokin (Kazakhstan)

France were never really in trouble here, but equally, none of their stars shone. Mbappe made a difference, but the headlines deserve to go to Mokin. The 39-year-old was making his first international appearance for six-and-a-half years, and he marked it with a superb penalty save while also keeping the score down overall.

PLAYER RATINGS

Kazakhstan: Mokin 8, Bystrov 6. Erlanov 6, Maliy 6, Alip 5, Valiullin 5, Muzhikov 5, Tagybergen 5, Vassiljev 5, Nurgaliev 6, Fedin 6 Substitutes: Vorogovsky 6, Tungyshbayev 5, Samorodov n/a, Astanov n/a, Karimov n/a
France: Lloris 6, Digne 7, Lenglet 6, Zouma 6, Dubois 6, Pogba 6, Ndombele 6, Lemar 5, Griezmann 5, Dembele 6, Martial 5 Substitutes: Mbappe 7, Ben Yedder 6, Rabiot 5, Coman n/a

KEY MOMENTS

20' - GOAL! Lovely goal by France, Martial turns to open up the game and finds Dembele in space. He rifles a shot into the corner.
43' - OFF THE LINE! Serhiy Maliy clears Lemar's chipped cross before Martial stooped to head home a second for France.
44' - GOAL! Oh, so unlucky. Maliy, after making theat clearance, scores an own goal from the resulting corner.
75' - MISS! Penalty France. Mbapppe fouled by Alip. SAVED BY MOKIN!

KEY STATS

France registered just their second clean sheet in six games.
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