Drawing level with the best
Inside Blue Thu 31 May 2018
Olivier Giroud equalled Zinedine Zidane as France’s fourth-highest scorer of all time. To celebrate, here are a few of the most noteworthy goals from his international career.
Our striker found the back of the net in a France shirt for the 31st time on Monday night, setting his side on their way to a 2-0 win over the Republic of Ireland as they continue their preparations for the upcoming World Cup.
That goal saw him match the total of Les Bleus legend Zidane, having taken 34 games less than the former Juventus and Real Madrid great to reach that figure. That means only Thierry Henry, Michel Platini and David Trezeguet have scored more times for France than Giroud.
However, it is not just the quantity of the 31-year-old’s goals which have made them worthy of mention, and to prove it here some of the most memorable occasions he has found the net at international level…
Germany 1-2 France, 29 February 2012
Giroud’s first international goal came as France announced their intentions to be serious contenders at Euro 2012. Travelling away to one of the tournament’s strong favourites, Germany, Les Bleus were certainly the underdogs, but the then-Montpellier striker took just 21 minutes to upset the odds and finish off a lightning-quick team move in simple style. He also played a part in the scramble which resulted in Chelsea’s Florent Malouda getting their second in a game they controlled, Laurent Blanc’s team making a real statement with this win despite Cacau’s injury-time consolation for the Germans. Giroud’s goal also effectively sealed his place in that summer’s squad, even if he would play a support role to Karim Benzema in Poland and Ukraine.
Spain 1-1 France, 16 October 2012
After Euro 2012, former Chelsea midfielder Didier Deschamps’ arrival as France boss paved the way for Giroud’s international career to really take off. Although he was still mostly used as a substitute during Deschamps’ early months in charge, he made a big impact, including this goal against recently crowned European champions Spain. Drawn in a tough qualifying group for the World Cup, even so early on this match looked like it would play a big role in deciding who would top the standings and who would need to go through the play-offs. It was very much advantage Spain when Giroud was introduced in the 88th minute, but with almost the last touch of the game he headed in Franck Ribery’s cross to leave both teams joint on seven points and prove Spain were not invincible after all. Giroud’s goal was the first scored against Iker Casillas in seven competitve matches and brought to an end Spain’s incredible run of winning 24 consecutive qualifying games.
Switzerland 2-5 France, 20 June 2014
Ultimately, France did require a play-off to reach the 2014 World Cup, but when they finally reached Brazil, Giroud made his presence felt again. Having been left out of the starting line-up for their first game against Honduras, Giroud was included the second time around as they took on the Swiss and promptly opened the scoring with a powerful trademark header, writing his name in the history books as the scorer of France’s 100th goal at a World Cup. It kick-started a flurry of goals as France raced into a 5-0 lead and, despite two late consolation goals for Switzerland, all but guaranteed Les Bleus place in the knockout stages, banishing memories of their nightmare campaign at the previous World Cup.
France 2-1 Romania, 10 June 2016
This was already a big occasion for Giroud, and the whole of France, before he found the net. Earning his 50th international cap in the opening game of a European Championship your country is hosting must have been a proud moment, but soon it got even better as he opened the scoring once again, this time heading in a cross from Dimitri Payet for the first goal of Euro 2016. On top of the grand occasion, it meant Giroud had scored on six consecutive international starts – he totted up eight goals in total in those games, thanks to braces against Denmark and Scotland – something no-one had managed for France since his own childhood hero Jean-Pierre Papin in 1991. In the end it took a late Payet goal to give the French the victory they needed, but nobody in blue cared how the win had come on an emotional night at the Stade de France, scene of a terrorist attack the previous November. Giroud got another two goals, both against Iceland in the quarter-finals, as France went all the way to the final before losing to Portugal, making him the tournament’s joint second-highest scorer.
France 5-0 Paraguay, 2 June 2017
By this time Giroud had secured his place in the top 10 French international goalscorers, but he was far from satisfied with 23. Three months later, he was putting Paraguay to the sword and adding considerably to that total by becoming the first person to get a hat-trick for Les Bleus since Trezeguet had done so 17 years earlier. Giroud’s was a trio of poacher’s goals, repeatedly finding space in the penalty area to convert crosses. The first two came in the first 13 minutes, volleying home Ousmane Dembele’s cross and producing a diving header from a similar position at the back post to send in Payet’s chipped pass. The third came in the second half, and bore more than a passing resemblance to his first-ever international goal, as he slid home Lucas Digne’s low cross to finish off a slick team move. A week later he would score again, this time a glorious volley against Sweden, making it 17 goals in his last 17 starts at international level.