France make flying start in Latvia

Latvia 0-3 France
Goals from Steven Joseph Monrose, Eliaquim Mangala and Mbaye Niang earned France a comfortable victory in their first Group 9 fixture.

France goalscorer Mbaye Niang (right) pictured in action for club side SM Caen
France goalscorer Mbaye Niang (right) pictured in action for club side SM Caen ©Getty Images

France kicked off their UEFA European Under-21 qualifying Group 9 campaign with a comfortable 3-0 victory against Latvia in Riga.

Steven Joseph Monrose opened the scoring after 33 minutes and Eliaquim Mangala doubled the visitors' advantage from close range just past the hour. The best goal was saved until last, though, as substitute Mbaye Niang lobbed Kristaps Dzelme four minutes from time to seal a comprehensive win.

Determined to make up for missing out on Denmark 2011, France set out on the road to Israel in impressive fashion with Frédéric Bulot testing the reflexes of Dzelme after five minutes. For all their possession, Eric Mombaerts's side rarely looked like scoring until Bulot's 33rd-minute cross was met by Monrose to give the visitors the lead.

Latvia's best chance of the half fell to Antons Kurakins who latched onto Armands Pētersons' back-heel but failed to find the target with a powerful strike. France continued to dominate proceedings after the break and doubled their advantage when Rémi Cabella's free-kick caused havoc in the hosts' penalty area and Mangala tapped in from close range.

Niang then raced on to a long clearance out of defence to skilfully lift the ball over the onrushing Dzelme and round off Les Bleuets' victory. Latvia will look to bounce back against Romania on 6 September while France host Kazakhstan on 7 October.