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WC Qualification Europe
16 October 2013
• Stade de France, Paris
Referee: M. Koukoulakis
• Attendance: 70156
F. Ribéry 8'
J. Toivio 76' (own goal)
K. Benzema 87'
The ref blows the full-time whistle, and the score finishes 3-0 to France. A play-off spot now beckons for les Bleus, who dispatched Finland with ease in the end despite the odd momentary break from Finland. I've been Livio Caferoglu and it's 'salut' from me!
90' + 2'
Pogba comes close after firing a powerful low shot from distance towards Maenpaa, who must parry the ball away for a corner!
There will be three minutes of injury time.
Assist Franck Ribéry
Goal Karim Benzema
GAME OVER!!! Benzema marks his cameo appearance with a simple finish beyond Maenpaa following a pinpoint Ribery cross. The Real Madrid hitman is back on form for his country now, with two goals in his last two games after going so long without finding the net!
Bit overly robust there from Valbuena who is lucky to escape the referee's book after going in strongly on Ring.
SHOULD'VE BURIED THAT!! Evra drives into the box after skinning Arkivuo and crosses the ball into the path of Valbuena, who arrives late and freely but somehow cannot aim his strike on target!
Maenpaa has had a generally decent match tonight, again evident by the way in which he smothers any danger potentially caused by Ribery's grounded cross.
Valbuena takes a corner on the right-hand side, but no-one is able to make contact with the Marseille man's ball.
HITS THE BAR!!! Remy, not long after coming on in place of Nasri, rifles a shot onto the woodwork and bounces clear!
Own Goal Joona Toivio
OWN GOAL!!! What a cruel way to throw away your team's chances - another cross is sent into the box, and Giroud's header is touched in by Toivio, who horribly miscues his clearance!
Yellow Card Alexander Ring
Ring is cautioned by the referee after committing a foul near his own box, yet in a matter of minutes, the favour is returned when Cabaye trips up Hamalainen.
Valbuena is entrusted with taking the corner, but Koscielny cannot guide his header on goal.
Giroud has a crack at goal from some way out, but it floats well wide of Maenpaa's target. Meanwhile, France make a couple of changes in an attempt to see out the victory, with Premier League experience coming on in the form of Newcastle duo Remy and Cabaye.
Pukki is beginning to peel out wide after seemingly accepting defeat in his quest to receive regular service through the middle, and his sacrifice pays off as he wins his side a corner through sheer persistence against Debuchy.
Matuidi shoots a Finnish attack dead after several nearly moments in their attempts to feed Pukki. However, France can't fare much better as Hetemaj is then caught cold by Pogba.
Lampi is furious as he is firmly in the belief that Debuchy - already in the ref's book - should be sent off following what looked like an elbow in the defender's face.
Ribery shows his marker a clean set of heels near the byline as France are awarded a free kick. However, nothing comes of the set-piece.
Yellow Card Patrice Evra
Evra concedes a free kick just outside the box, and Giroud shows his defensive credentials by heading the ball away from Lloris' grasp!
France are sending balls into the box frequently, and again another reaches the on-rushing leg of Giroud, who pulls it back for Ribery, but Halsti doesn't waste any time in averting the danger as he desperately slides into the winger. A possible penalty shout, perhaps?
Giroud is backed into a corner inside the box after impressively latching onto a long diagonal pass, but his speculative back-heel to Ribery is blocked off.
This is much better from Finland! Pukki does well to hold play up in the French box, as he lays the ball off to Ring, but Eremenko nicks it and unleashes a first-time attempt at Lloris from the edge of the area.
Arkivuo must act decisively to header out a dangerous Ribery ball. He has another bite of the cherry from a corner, and it falls to Valbuena who hits the half-volley, with a slight nick off Giroud and into Maenpaa's gloves.
Finland break again rather quickly through Ring on the right flank, but the midfielder is not on the rest of his team's wavelength and the move disappointingly falters.
Ring wins a free kick for Finland after being ushered illegally off the ball, and they ALMOST score as a result! Eremenko and Hamalainen link up on the edge of the box before finding Pukki free in the area, but the Celtic forward inexplicably skews his close-range finish wide!
Yellow Card Mathieu Debuchy
We're back under way for the second period, but it starts with a Debuchy yellow card!
France have been well on top for much of the match so far, but as we know all so well, one goal can easily be overturned. Finland have looked occasionally dangerous on the break, although their game plan was sabotaged very early on. Still, the creative potential of France's forward players cannot be ignored and they should go onto to register a comfortable victory.
However, on the plus side, Franck Ribery will finish as the pool's top goalscorer. The winger's strike tonight ups his tally to five for the campaign - one higher than nearest competitor Pedro.
In the group's other significant fixture, Spain are leading Georgia 1-0 to put themselves in pole position to qualify for the 2014 World Cup! It seems the play-offs is the best bet for France at this stage.
The referee blows his whistle for half-time!
45' + 1'
Evra tries to force through the issue by hitting a string of crosses into the box, but each and every time, he is stopped in his tracks.
There'll be two minutes of added time in the first half.
Giroud again comes agonisingly close from seeing the penny drop. Nasri uses his vision expertly to drop the ball onto Ribery's toes in the box, and the Bayern star turns on a six-pence before passing into the striker's path. although he can only stretch rather than make any meaningful contact.
DOUBLE SALVO! Another fine move is executed by the French, who find luck down the flank again through Valbuena, but Giroud can't quite connect with the low cross as Maenpaa blocks it for a corner!
OOOOH! That would have been a peach of a finish if Valbuena got enough curl on his strike. The diminutive playmaker receives the ball in the box from Ribery but cannot steer his effort goal-bound!
France mustn't rest on their laurels too much as the visitors have shown their intent on more than one occasion. Again, les Bleus see another attack break down, despite talisman Ribery leading the way, but Pukki fails to make the Finnish counter count (see what I did there?)
Lampi pushes forward with a raking cross into the box, but no-one is able to nod it towards Lloris' goal. Normal service resumes once more!
Ring looks to be Finland's most productive player in these initial exchanges. The Kaiserslautern midfielder breaks down the left-hand side and dinks a low cross into the box which Evra must clear for a corner with a diving header!
Bit too ambitious there from Valbuena, as the attacking midfielder looks to play in either one of Giroud or Debuchy, but his chipped through ball reaches neither player but Maenpaa instead between the sticks.
Arkivuo attempts to take on Evra down the wing with a few cheeky stepovers, but the Manchester United man is no fool and he wins the ball back in an instant.
Debuchy embarks on another powerful run down the right flank and sends in a curling cross which is headed out by Pasanen easily enough.
Nasri is on the deck following a strong challenge, but play promptly resumes with Finland. The Manchester City ace goes off for additional treatment - I can see the magic sponge coming out!
Just moments later, Finland are presented with another opening. This time it's Eremenko in the box, who readies himself for a likely equaliser, but in the nick of time Matuidi slides in and the chance goes begging.
OOOOOH! I may have spoken too soon there. Ring sends a delightful ball forward to Pukki, who beats the offside trap, and Lloris comes quickly off his line to deny the Celtic striker one-on-one!
Finland are living on the edge here as they look to defend in numbers. Their initial approach of sitting back and hitting France on the break seems to have already fallen apart as they find themselves a goal down. Pogba, on the edge of the box meanwhile, hits a low attempt that Maenpaa goes down to receive.
ALMOST TWO TO LES BLEUS! More fantastic wing-play is exhibited by the French, as Valbuena floats the ball in the box after a superb through pass from Ribery, yet Giroud can only head towards Maenpaa!
Ribery definitely looks in the mood tonight. Everytime he touches the ball, you sense that he's ready to pounce when given the opportunity, with his opponent being the unfortunate victim.
Another corner is won by France, which is shortly taken by Valbuena. However, it is deflected off the field of play for another corner, although when the second attempt is taken, it reaches Debuchy at the far post who rifles the ball onto the post!
France are now just one point within Spain's reach following that goal, but it's not quite enough to knock La Roja off their perch. Ribery is again with the ball on the left and interchanges with Pogba, and Debuchy's header from the cross goes just over!
Assist Mathieu Valbuena
Goal Franck Ribéry
WHAT A GOAL! I'm still questioning where exactly *that* came from... Ribery comes inside after evading his marker and smashes a spectacular effort into the top-right corner. Maenpaa looked absolutely flabbergasted as he watched that fly past him!
Ribery gets to the byline and scoops up a deep cross which Nasri tries to flick back into play at the far post, but Pogba can only steer his edge-of-the-box volley wide of the target.
Finland launch their first attack of the night through the wings, as Ring is found on the right flank, but he fails to switch the ball to the opposite side and possession is quickly lost.
Matuidi is hauled to the ground by Pukki and France are awarded a free kick, which they almost capitalise on as the loose ball drops to the Paris Saint-Germain man, but it bounces off an offside Giroud.
The hosts waste no time in getting the ball up the pitch and win their first corner, although its to no avail despite slight calls of handball.
We're under way in Paris, with France going left-to-right!
France fared similarly well last month as they found the inspiration to turn around a deficit to eventually banish Belarus to a 4-2 defeat. Karim Benzema ended his goal drought in the match, but he's nowhere to be seen in the Bleus line-up tonight.
For Finland, however, there is nothing but pride to play for, given that they secured third place in the pool following a 1-0 victory over Georgia in the last round of fixtures.
Everything is still to play for in the group as we enter this last matchday in Group I, with neither France or Spain having tied up top spot - and subsequently a ticket to next year's finals in Brazil - despite both sides already reaching the play-offs.
And latterly, Finland: Maenpaa; Pasanen, Lampi, Arkivuo, Hasti; Eremenko, Hetemaj, Tainio; Ring, Hamalainen, Pukki.
Before we continue, here are the teams - starting with the hosts France: Lloris; Debuchy, Koscielny, Abidal, Evra; Matuidi, Pogba; Ribery, Valbuena, Nasri; Giroud.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of the Group I World Cup Qualifying clash between France and Finland! I'm Livio Caferoglu and I'll be guiding you through all the twists and turns as they happen at Stade de France tonight.
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