The Republic of Ireland’s slim hopes of qualifying for Euro 2024 were further dented as France ran out comfortable winners at Parc des Princes.
Real Madrid midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni’s stunning 19th-minute goal put the hosts ahead at the break.
Substitute Marcus Thuram ensured a home victory early in the second half as the French made it five wins from five.
For the Republic, however, it is a third defeat in four games, leaving them fourth in the group.
Stephen Kenny’s side’s chances of qualifying for next summer’s finals in Germany are remote, but they must regroup quickly and look to revive their campaign at home to the Netherlands on Sunday.
When France visited Dublin in March, Didier Deschamps’ side escaped with a 1-0 win having been put under intense pressure by a spirited Republic team, with French goalkeeper Mike Maignan in inspired form.
But it was a different story in the French capital, with Thuram’s goal taking the sting out of the game and paving the way for a largely comfortable second half for Les Bleus.
While few expected a Republic victory, their latest defeat leaves them facing an almighty task in their quest to qualify for a tournament for the first time under Kenny.
“From our point of view it’s all about Sunday,” Kenny, who admitted France were “too good”, told RTE.
“That’s the main objective. Holland beating Greece tonight means that if we beat them on Sunday we’re all level [Republic, the Netherlands and Greece] in relation to second place.
“It is a big game and we need a victory.”
Ferguson-less Republic struggle
Already facing a daunting task away to the beaten World Cup finalists, the Republic’s preparations were hit on Tuesday by the injury-enforced withdrawal of in-form Brighton striker Evan Ferguson.
The 18-year-old, fresh off scoring a hat-trick against Newcastle, was set to spearhead the Irish attack against France and the Netherlands, and with Michael Obafemi, Troy Parrott, Callum Robinson, and Mikey Johnston already out, the Republic’s attack struggled in Paris.
As for France, Kylian Mbappe fired a blank – as he did in Dublin – as the Paris St-Germain star fired a volley over the bar from an Antoine Griezmann corner before seeing a goal ruled out for offside. But while he failed to score, the 24-year-old was constantly involved in the home side’s attacks.
There were no such goal scoring frustrations for Tchouameni, though, who fired in a brilliant opener after being teed up by Mbappe.
The 23-year-old Real Madrid midfielder lit up the first half with an unstoppable right-footed shot, but it was an avoidable goal from a Republic perspective with Nathan Collins only able to half-clear a cross to Mbappe.
From there, France largely dominated possession but were unable to double the advantage before half-time. Mbappe thought he had done just that six minutes before the break but Thuram was correctly flagged for offside before he found the France captain.