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2018 World Cup Qualifying - UEFA, Group Stage
  • Paul Pogba (30')

Paul Pogba's strike sends Dutch to first WC qualifying loss since 2001

Paul Pogba scored a spectular long-range goal as France took control of Group A with a 1-0 win over Netherlands.

Manchester United's world-record signing unleashed a dipping 35-yard strike in the first half to sink the Dutch at the Amsterdam ArenA, inflicting Netherlands' first World Cup qualifying loss since September 2001 -- an unbeaten run of 34 matches.

Pogba has found the net just once for United this season and his previous goal for France came in the Euro 2016 quarterfinal victory over Iceland, which was his first international strike in almost two years.

But the £89 million midfielder was helped by some generous goalkeeping by Maarten Stekelenburg as he netted his seventh goal for Les Bleus.

With Dimitri Payet pulling the strings France dominated the early stages and got a first sight of goal after just four minutes.

However, Payet's corner was headed wide by Raphael Varane, and shortly after Stekelenburg saved from Kevin Gameiro.

The deadlock was broken in spectacular style by Pogba on the half-hour mark when Laurent Koscielny intercepted the ball on the halfway line and fed Payet, who played a square pass to Pogba.

Pogba took a couple of steps forward, looked up and unleashed a fierce shot which the diving Stekelenburg got a hand to but could not keep out.

Payet then fancied a slice of the action and had a long-range effort saved, but France survived a scare just before half-time when a poor backpass from the West Ham midfielder allowed Vincent Janssen to move in on goal.

Janssen's shot was blocked by Koscielny, and although the ball bounced onto the defender's hand, Netherlands' appeals for a penalty were waved away.

Janssen came even closer to finding the target after the break when he rolled Varane in the area but lashed his shot into the side-netting.

Pogba almost created a second for France when his ball over the top found Kevin Gameiro, who brought it down superbly but was unable to beat the onrushing Stekelenburg with Antoine Griezmann skying the rebound.

Pogba then squandered the opportunity to notch his second when he headed Payet's corner straight at Stekelenburg.

And France were grateful to goalkeeper Hugo Lloris for keeping out Memphis Depay's late snap-shot to preserve the three points.