Euro 2012 Qualifier: Bosnia-Herzegovina 0-2 France - Florent Malouda scores as Laurent Blanc records first win as national team manager
Benzema also on target in Sarajevo
By Stephen Crawford
Sorely needing a win tonight to get back on an even keel in the wake of much controversy, Laurent Blanc's France did him proud in Sarajevo as Karim Benzema and Florent Malouda helped themselves to a goal each to overcome Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Benzema got the nod over a large handful of other possible strikers at Blanc's disposal and assisted Malouda at the head of the French attack. There were no surprises at the other end as Bosnian gaffer Safet Susic paired Vedad Ibisevic with Edin Dzeko, and had young playmaker Miralem Pjanic pulling the strings.
France looked the better of the sides in the opening stages as attempts from Benzema and Malouda seemed to take the sting out of the electric atmosphere in Sarajevo. Both players were letting their presence be known in the Bosnian box, but their strikes were not good enough to beat Kenan Hasagic.
Besides a decent strike from Ibesevic and a clever flick from Dzeko which failed to beat Hugo Lloris, Blanc's boys continued to dominate throughout the first half. Benzema was showing some real dynamism throughout, popping up all over the place to test Hasagic. However, he just couldn't seem to squeeze the ball past the Bosnian 'keeper.
Pjanic would have got his name on the scoresheet before half-time were it not for a Philippe Mexes interception, but instead the attacking midfielder ended the first period with his name in the referee's book after he fouled Lloris. Mathieu Valbuena joined Pjanic in the book after a sore looking foul on Elvir Rahimic as the teams went in for the break.
The hosts came out looking much hungrier as the second half began, but for all their heart they just couldn't seem to hold on to the ball. This seemed to deflate the Bosnians as the minutes wore on, and the French flurry was allowed to continue with Benzema again leading by example.
The home side looked like they might have managed to pinch the lead after 64 minutes when Pjanic let rip from 35 yards following a free-kick. It was a venomous, dipping drive that forced Lloris in to making a game-saving parry – his first of the night. This prompted much chanting from the home fans, but they would soon be silenced.
Gael Clichy whipped in a wonderful low cross to Benzema, who trapped the ball before shimmying to his left and releasing a shot that Hasagic never had a chance with. After a good bit of huffing and puffing, the Real Madrid striker finally got the goal that he deserved.
Less than 10 minutes later France doubled their tally, this time Malouda with the goal. After wonderful work from Diarra to dispossess Dzeko deep in the French half, the ball was sailed up to Valbuena, who teamed up wonderfully with Abou Diaby to stretch the Bosnian defence and tee up the Chelsea man for the second goal of the night.
A disappointed fan had the bright idea to throw a smoke bomb on to the pitch in the dying minutes to show his frustration. The explosive went off near Mexes, but the Roma defender was not injured and the bomb served only as fireworks for Blanc's first win in charge of France.
|William Hill: £25 in free bets|
|Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
- Own Goal
- Penalty Missed
- Yellow Card
- Penalty Save
- Penalty Shootout Goal
- Penalty Shootout Miss
- Yellow Card / Red Card
- Red Card
- Substitution IN
- Substitution OUT
- Goal.com Rating
- Goal.com Man of the Match
- Goal.com Flop of the Match
- Top & Flop Global Ranking
- Fans' Man of the Match
- Fans' Flop of the Match