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27 May 2012
• Stade du Hainaut, Valenciennes
Referee: S. Delferière
• Attendance: 24000
M. Debuchy 52'
F. Ribéry 84'
A. Rami 87'
B. Bjarnason 27'
K. Sigþórsson 34'
That's it from me, Mohammed Ali, this evening. Great turnaround, but a good performance from the visitors. Join me again for Thursday for France v Serbia.
What a turnaround. Devoid of any attacking technique in the first half, when Iceland took a 2-0 lead at half-time courtesy of Sigthorsson and Bjarnason. The substitutions took a while to adapt, but Debuchy, Ribery and Rami mean France encounter another win.
90' + 3'
FULL-TIME: FRANCE 3-2 ICELAND
90' + 3'
Franck Ribery too, has performed admirably since coming on. He's taken a late challenge to the face from Jonasson who denies any infringement.
90' + 2'
France just nullifying the Icelandic threat with the simple tactic of ball retention late on. A speculative shot from Sigurdsson flies wide of Mandanda's goal. Valenciennes is simply rocking.
90' + 1'
That's three minutes signalled by the fourth official at the end of this match. France are now on a run of 19 games without defeat! 2-0 down at half-time too!
What a superb impact from Olivier Giroud. Since coming on, he has two fine assists. The la Paillade striker is making a late claim to start against England at Euro 2012.
Assist Olivier Giroud
Goal Adil Rami
GOOOAAAALLL!! THEY'VE DONE IT! FRANCE ARE IN THE LEAD! Fantastic assist from Giroud who knocks it into Adil Rami who in turn fires a low powerful shot into the net!
The atmosphere is building, and France think they can nick this!
CHANCE! But headed away. Iceland are defending deep, and they're not letting anything get past them. Long range effort is headed over the bar and away.
Assist Olivier Giroud
Goal Franck Ribéry
GOOOALLL!! France equalise! Fantastic goal from Ribery who succeeds with the exquisite one-two laid on by the impressive Giroud. He keeps his composure and chips Halldorsson in the far corner. 2-2!
@Sydoke on Twitter: Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Blaise Matuidi, Remy (obviously injured) should be dropped.
Giroud receives the ball in the penalty box, and combines with Ribery who opts to pass it back and not shoot. The visitors do well to clear it away. Testing times for France.
VALBUENA! Dragged wide. Good opening for the Marseille playmaker, who has made an impact since coming off. Shot from distance, and it's gone narrowly wide.
@BobDavis6 on Twitter: Well, either way, Gourcuff will (and should) go
And a tough moment for France on the counter, and they are caught out in defence. It's 3 v 3 at the back, but Gudmundsson shoots straight at Mandanda despite options.
Rurik Gislason is also off for Gudmundsson. Substitute Valbuena drifts in a cross, which is over hit. Ribery is the dispossessed, but recovers before losing the ball again. Sustained pressure from the French, and Malouda's shot is blocked.
Yoann Gourcuff replaced in place of Ribery, and to boos from the Valenciennes crowd. Menez comes off. Less than fifteen to go, it's Iceland who lead at Stade du Hainaut.
Cardiff City's Aron Gunnarsson performing well in the heart of the midfield, attempting to stop France connect the balls between the defence up towards the front line. Again, another appeal for handball, which is denied by the referee.
Rami fires in a free-kick from distance, but the wall does its job well. Meanwhile, on Twitter @garsenal22 reckons: Diarra, Malouda and Rami.
@Mohd_AlMudaifa on Twitter reckons that France should cut: Benzema, Ribery and Lloris. Really, the captain? Bold choice Mr Al Mudaifa.
Another threatening ball from the wings (it's proving a useful source of chances for France tonight). Giroud comes in, but unable to get that decisive touch on it.
@ozair7 on Twitter with his potential Euro squad: Lloris Debuchy Rami Mexes Clichy M'Villa Cabaye Ben Arfa Nasri Ribery Benzema. 4-2-3-1
Yellow Card Hannes Thór Halldórsson
Helgi Valur Danielsson
Gourcuff is again in the thick of things, firing over Haldorsson's goal. The goalkeeper has a yellow card for time-wasting.
GOURCUFF! Gaught by Haldorsson. Great curling free-kick on the edge of the area, and it's plucked out by the Icelandic goalkeeper. He needs to perform in thsi game, the Lyon man, or risk being one of the players who are cut on Tuesday.
BJARNASON! TOP SAVE MANDANDA! Wow, that could've put the match to bed there. Superb ball in towards the Standard Liege man who's effort was clawed away by the Marseille goalkeeper.
@VeginV on Twitter with his potential Euro squad: Lloris Clichy Sakho Mexes Sagna Ribery M'Vila L.Diarra Nasri Benzema Ben Arfa < Diarra can't play due to not being in the squad. But Alou Diarra can! Sakho can't either. And Sagna's injured.
Earlier, Iceland made a substitution of their own. Hedinsson came on for Sigthorsson. Karim Benzema off for Malouda. Marvin Martin on for Nasri.
Hatem Ben Arfa
Hjörtur Logi Valgardsson
Ari Freyr Skúlason
Substitutions for France. Giroud comes on for Ben Arfa, Marseille's Diarra on for Cabaye.
Decent improvement in this half for les Bleus, who look good in their quest to come back into this match. Menez and Ben Arfa have been a fearsome duo in this half, even if they have lacked the end product in the first 45 minutes.
Yellow Card Hjörtur Logi Valgardsson
Valgardsson becomes the first Icelandic player into the book in Valenciennes. Looking back at that goal, it was a fine finish from Debuchy, arriving form the flank.
Assist Karim Benzema
Goal Mathieu Debuchy
GOOOAAALL!! FRANCE SCORE! Debuchy puts it into the net, with his first international goal. Well-taken, after a poor clearance from Iceland.
Might see a number of substitutions arriving soon. The likes of Valbuena, Ribery, Giroud, Malouda, Koscielny and Martin all on the bench.
BENZEMA! Took a massive deflection and inched narrowly wide of Halldorsson's goal. Good impact from the number nine, who is again thwarted at the last.
Three minutes played in this half, and already the ball has almost exclusively been camped in the Icelandic penalty box. France are putting on the pressure, delivering cross after cross after cross. Jonsson keeps the ball away from the goal.
France have already come out of the traps in this second period. Menez threatens on the wing, and a fantastic chest from Benzema finds Ben Arfa who drags his shot narrowly wide.
UNDERWAY IN THE SECOND HALF! France 0-2 Iceland, can Les Bleus mount a comeback?
The teams are out for the second period in Valenciennes.
@andre_wolfgang on Twitter: I support the flying dutchmen.I dont know much about France squad but Koscielny should definitely start ALL games.
What do you make of the first half? Tweet us @goal_intl with your thoughts, and also your potential France XIs for the Euros.
HT in Valenciennes. And who would've thought it? France were totally disjointed. Goals from Bjarnason and Sigthorsson have dented Laurent Blanc's men. Benzema has had chances to reduce the deficit, but Iceland remain in the driving seat.
45' + 2'
HALF-TIME: France 0-2 Iceland
45' + 1'
BENZEMA! Well saved by Halldorsson! The Real Madrid striker can't get past the Icelandic keeper who palms away with a fine save from an acute angle.
One minute added on to the end of the first half.
PENALTY? NO! Referee waves away the claims again! Fantastic flowing move with a cheeky one-two between Ben Arfa and Benzema, and the latter is clearly fouled. No penalty given. The follow-up shot is cleared off the line!
Free-kick awarded to les Bleus. Delivered in well from the right, met by Mexes who touches it into the hands of Halldorsson.
The flamboyant Sigurdsson lofts a ball, but can't find a team-mate. Moments before, Ben Arfa was called offside, despite being marginally on. Poor officiating.
@garsenal22 on Twitter with his Euro squad: mandanda clichy koscielny debuchy evra m'vila nasri gourcouff giroud benzema ben arfa 4-3-3 - the only one that's actually picked Mandanda over Lloris. Interesting.
BENZEMA! Over. Couldn't keep it down. Lovely ball from Debuchy on the right, and the Real Madrid striker floats behind the defence and connects with the ball well, but his impact sees it fly over the bar.
Yellow Card Ragnar Sigurdsson
Iceland haven't exactly been on top form, but they've had two chances, capitalised on two defensive mistakes, and have scored two goals. Not just the Germans that are efficient. France are on a downward spiral.
France, shell-shocked to the core here in Valenciennes with whistles and boos coming from the stands attempt to get back into the match. Gourcuff cheekily lobs a ball over the defence, but it goes wide.
Assist Rurik Gislason
Goal Kolbeinn Sigthórsson
UNBELIEVABLE! GOAALLL!! Fantastic cross from Gislason, and he finds his team-mate Sigthorsson who capitalises on lax defending to fire past Mandanda. 2-0!
Goalscorer Bjarnason scored his first goal for Iceland moments ago, but he goes down holding his face. Accidental from Cabaye in the slightest.
Evra attempts to atone for his horror show in trying to clear Sigthorsson's header - bombing down the left flank and creating a chance. Nothing doing however. @matthewnevin on Twitter with his Euro squad: Lloris; Debuchy, Rami, Koscielny, Clichy; Cabaye, M'Vila; Valbuena, Nasri, Ribery; Benzema
RAMI! Ferocious shot, well saved by Halldorsson. But France are denied a penalty claim after Gourcuff's ball got in the way of a defender. Bit harsh to give that, but France are looking for a response.
Assist Kolbeinn Sigthórsson
Goal Birkir Bjarnason
GOOOALL!! Well there were shocks yesterday. And Iceland have followed the smaller nations. Birkir Bjarnason with a fantastic half-volley to power past Steve Mandanda. Evra was asleep there. Poor defending from the Man Utd man.
@saurabh_36's potential Euro squad: France: 4-2-3-1 loris, reveliere, mexes, koscielny, evra, m'vila, cabaye, ribery, menez, nasri, benzema.
Mexes gets a yellow card for a rash challenge. Funnily enough, the Milan defender won't be exiting the scene until he gets an apologetic handshake from the Icelandic player. He's not getting one.
Yellow Card Philippe Mexes
A rare moment of uncertainty from France. Mexes heads the ball away for a corner, which poses more problems than it should for the Gallic nation. Corner is delivered well, and too close to Mandanda who saves well.
Over at @goal_intl. Join the debate. What line-up would you start with against England on June 11?
Patrice Evra's had a quiet game so far. Much of the play seems to be centred around the middle, or through the right flank. Ben Arfa is seeing much of the ball, striking up a devastating partnership with Benzema so far. It won't be long before a goal is scored, I tell you!
Debuchy moves onto the right flank, in towards Cabaye in a good attacking phase of football. Cabaye opts to win the ball back in towards Benzema, but his shot is blocked.
Bit of a muted moment since that Benzema goal. Gourcuff, who is arguably playing for his Euro 2012 future, is reprimanded for a tackle on Bjarnason.
France and Iceland's last game came in October 1999. France won 3-2, with the David Trezeguet scoring the winner.
GOAL! No it's offside! Unlucky for France. Benzema puts the ball into the back of the net with a sweet strike down low past Halldorsson. It's ruled out, as he was coming back from an offside position.
Sigurdsson of Swansea is a real character isn't he? Whilst his compatriots struggle to hold together the defence, he's off troubling les Bleus at the other end. He and Gislason interlink well, but Mexes - captaining tonight - gets in with a good challenge.
Lars Lagerback's men are looking pretty shaky. Menez waltzes in past the right back and into the area, but he's taken down inside the box. Penalty not given, and instead it's the free-kick outside the box. Nasri wastes.
GISLASON! Against the run of play, Gislason drills in a low cross which almost catches out Mandanda.
A decent start from Les Bleus. Either that they're getting in the mood, or that Iceland are all over the place. Nasri connects again with Benzema, and the former gets in but Halldorsson has it in his clutches.
Corner to France, and it's a decent opportunity spurned. Debuchy floats in a speculative ball which is cleared behind. Menez shows pace to deliver the corner in towards Rami who fires goalwards. It's blocked, and fired over from Nasri.
Benzema shows fantastic control to prise the ball away from R Sigurdsson. He finds himself in a decent position, though the referee's whistle for offside stops play.
Good start at Valenciennes' brand-spanking-new stadium which opened last year. A very relaxed crowd witnessing Ben Arfa link well with Benzema early on, with Iceland requiring to keep alert.
UNDERWAY at Stade du Hainaut. France attacking from left to right.
@DANZ_SACKJ on Twitter thinks both Gourcuff and Ben Arfa will make the Euros. Other people think otherwise. Continue the debate on @goal_intl.
@Slam_Kobe on Twitter: think ben arfa deseve his place he was on good form @ st. james park lately
Few tweets coming in at @goal_intl: @brennandionte on Twitter: I reckon ben arfa will be more solid in the midfield and will blend well with cabaye...
TEAM NEWS: Steve Mandanda is in goal for France, with Mexes captaining. Ben Arfa makes his first appearance for Les Bleus since August 2010, when he scored in the 2-1 defeat to Norway in Blanc's first game. Yoann Gourcuff is also given the nod. For Iceland, it is much of the same team that lost to Montenegro in February. Gylfi Sigurdsson starts, as does Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.
ICELAND: Halldórsson, Jónasson, Valgardsson, K Sigurdsson, Árnason, Gíslason, G Sigurdsson, Gunnarsson, Jónsson, Bjarnason, Sigthórsson.
CONFIRMED TEAM LINE-UPS: FRANCE: Mandanda; Debuchy, Rami, Mexes, Evra; Cabaye, Gourcuff, Nasri, Ben Arfa; Menez, Benzema.
Meanwhile, Laurent Blanc has admitted that tonight's friendly is to test out the fringe players. He said: "There will be a lot of turnover against Iceland. There'll probably be a few changes against Serbia and a bit less against Estonia. The aim of the last game is to know most of the players who will start against England. Our status hasn't changed, but the way people are looking us certainly has."
Iceland meanwhile, have nothing to play for. Following on from February international defeats to Japan and Montenegro, the side ranked in the 131st in the FIFA World Rankings will be hoping to show more attacking guile against a footballing superpower, just like they did against Portugal. Lars Lagerback's men scored three in that game, but lost 5-3. They have Swansea's Gylfi Sigurdsson in their ranks, mind you. He set the Premier League alight since his loan move from Hoffenheim.
France named 26 players in their provisional squad, with the likes of Montpellier's title-winning captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa the only uncapped player in the squad. Marvin Martin and Yoann Gourcuff have also been included, despite poor club form, yet the inclusion of both has highlighted the lack of attacking midfielders in that position since the legendary Zinedine Zidane.
September 2010. The last time France lost an international game of any sort. For the side who are on the brink of a major tournament, and after the Knysna episode in South Africa, that's pretty darn good. 18 internationals since Laurent Blanc's men last tasted defeat, in fact Blanc lost the first two against Norway and Belarus. But since then, England, Germany and even Brazil have fallen to the wayside.
I'm Mohammed Ali, and again I'll be your host for this evening, bringing you live commentary from Valenciennes. Want to get involved? Sure you do. You ALWAYS do. So, hit me up on the good old Twitter - send your messages, comments, predictions and more to @goal_intl.
Good evening! And welcome to Goal.com's live text commentary of the international friendly between France and Iceland at Stade du Hainaut in Valenciennes. This will be the first, and last chance for some of the Les Bleus players to impress manager Laurent Blanc ahead of Tuesday's deadline for the Euro 2012 squads.
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