Gameiro hits double as France rout Bulgaria 4-1

France's

France’s

Kevin Gameiro marked his first international start in almost five years with a brace as France came from behind to beat Bulgaria 4-1 and kick-start their World Cup qualifying campaign on Friday.

On their first outing at the Stade de France since losing the Euro 2016 final to Portugal in July, France fell behind to an early Mihail Aleksandrov penalty but Atletico Madrid striker Gameiro — not part of the European Championship squad — got the equaliser.

Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann ensured the home side went into the interval with a comfortable advantage and Gameiro completed an ultimately handsome victory in the second half.

It was France’s first win in Group A of European qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and set them up nicely for Monday’s trip to the Netherlands, themselves 4-1 winners at home to Belarus on Friday.

“It was a perfect evening. We reacted well and then ran away with it,” Gameiro, back in favour at the age of 29, told TF1.

“I felt enormously proud and especially full of desire. Hard work pays off.”

Coach Didier Deschamps added: “He is there to score goals and he scored two. He was very good with his movement, he worked very hard for the team, along with Antoine.”

Gameiro started as Deschamps made five changes to the side that could only draw 0-0 in Belarus in their opening qualifier a month ago.

Indeed Bulgaria topped the group coming into this encounter thanks to a 4-3 win against Luxembourg in September.

This was their first game under new coach Petar Hubchev and the Stade de France was silenced as they went in front in the sixth minute.

Georgi Milanov was fouled in the area by Bacary Sagna and Aleksandrov stepped up to net the resulting penalty.

This was Bulgaria’s first visit to France since their 2-1 win in 1993 that denied Les Bleus a place at the following year’s World Cup and suddenly the prospect of a repeat performance was on the cards.