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18.11.2019 Europe

La Marseillaise booed in Tirana as France beats Albania 2-nil in Euro 2020 qualifier

By - RFI
REUTERS/Florion Goga
NOV 18, 2019 EUROPE

World champions France produced a fitting away match victory in Albania after goals from Corentin Tolisso and Antoine Griezmann gave them a 2-nil win in a Euro 2020 Group H qualifier on Sunday. But the home crowd were unforgiving following national anthem gaffe in Paris last September. 

Having already booked their place in next year's 24-nation tournament, Les Bleus finished top of the group on 25 points from 10 games, two ahead of second-placed Turkey who cruised to a 2-nil win at Andorra.

Albania, who had no chance of breaking into the top two, looked subdued in front of a passionate home crowd.

Tolisso fired the French into an eighth-minute lead when he headed home superbly inside the near post after Griezmann swung in an inviting free kick from the left.

Griezmann netted the second in the 31st minute when he turned in a sharp low cross by Leo Dubois, as the gulf in class between the two sides was everywhere to be seen.

Memories of national anthem gaffe
However, two months after Albania's footballers and fans were left furious when the wrong national anthem was played at a Euro 2020 qualifier in France, the French anthem was roundly booed in yesterday's return match.

France played the Andorran anthem by mistake at the Stade de France in September.

After the angry Albanians protested and refused to play until the correct music was played, the correct anthem was found and the game kicked off more than five minutes late.

Ahead of Sunday's game, a local singer was charged with performing a rendition of La Marseillaise, but she was largely drowned out by widespread whistling from a 22,000-strong home crowd.

France were fined €20,000 by UEFA for their mistake, while French President Emmanuel Macron made an official apology for the embarrassing oversight.

In other qualifiers
Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 99th international goal as reigning champions Portugal secured their place at the Euro 2020 finals on Sunday with a 2-nil victory away to Luxembourg.

Bruno Fernandes struck the opening goal on 39 minutes before Ronaldo tapped in a scrappy second late on to clinch second place in Group B behind winners Ukraine, who drew 2-2 in Serbia.

Iranian striker Ali Daei holds the world record with 109 international goals scored in 149 appearances between 1993 and 2006.

"All records must be broken and I will beat that record," said Ronaldo.

Portugal became the 17th nation to qualify for next year's multi-host tournament, which kicks off in Rome on June 12, joining the likes of world champions France, Spain, Italy and England.

The other matches Iceland edged to a 2-1 victory at Moldova.

England rounded off an impressive campaign with a 4-nil thrashing of Kosovo

And the Czech Republic are also through, despite having lost 1-nil to Bulgaria on Sunday.