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WC Qualification Europe
March 22, 2013
• 4:00 PM
• Stade de France, Paris
Referee: I. Bebek
• Attendance: 71147
O. Giroud 45'+
M. Valbuena 47'
F. Ribéry 61'
A. Kobakhidze 71'
90' + 3'
FULL-TIME: France 3-1 Georgia - France go top of Group I
90' + 2'
Good shout for a penalty, as Sakho races forward with the ball. But that's the end of the second half.
Three minutes added onto the end of the second half.
Menez rallies forward with a number of darting runs in behind the defence, but is unable to force Loria.
Georgia with another speculative break forward, but Varane holds his balance to thwart the opposition.
Menez and Benzema combining as France search for a fourth, as Les Bleus continue to press forward. Meanwhile, Georgia are readying a substitution.
Ten minutes to go at Saint-Denis, and again the tempo has been lowered significantly. France comfortably sailing over the finishing line.
Yellow Card Alexander Amisulashvili
Substitution: Franck Ribery off for Jeremy Menez. Great encounter from the Bayern man.
BIG NEWS! Spain have drawn 1-1 with Finland in Group I -
A distinctly quiet atmosphere following Valbuena's substitution, and the same can be said on the pitch too. Georgia seeing far more of the ball now, as Benzema fails to reach a lofted ball.
Substitution: Georgia switch striker Vatsadze for Vladimer Dvalishvili. 18 minutes to go at the Stade de France.
Goal Aleksandre Kobakhidze
GOAL! GEORGIA! The visitors pull one back! Kobakhidze with the goal as he superbly gets in front of Sakho, whose horrible defending allows the winger to beat Lloris near post. Boos all around.
Tempo has been lowered significantly since the substitutions, allowing Georgia to attack at their own pace. What can Ananidze and co get from this opportunity?!
What are your thoughts? Don't forget to tweet me @mohammedali_93. In Gijon, it remains Spain 1-1 Finland - France would top this group, and a positive result on Tuesday would go a long way to making next year's World Cup.
Substitution: Moussa Sissoko replaces Blaise Matuidi. Another energetic if not slightly quiet performance from the PSG star.
Substitution: Mathieu Valbuena off for Loic Remy - the Marseille star goes off to a standing ovation, replaced by former team-mate Loic Remy.
Varane has a few troubles with striker Vatsadze who chases him for a loose ball, but again, showing the maturity at the back which belies his age, Varane deals with it oh so coolly.
Superb run and finish from Ribery, after yet another decent move from Valbuena - two assists and a goal from him tonight. Elsewhere - BIG NEWS! Finland have levelled v Spain in Gijon!
Assist Mathieu Valbuena
Goal Franck Ribéry
Jallet's crossing has been a real asset tonight. Given the time and space to perfect it once again, his delivery deep into the danger zone is well saved by Loria. On the hour. 30 to go.
Kobakhidze controls possession well, before finding Amisulashvili. Ketsbaia's men let the ball run deep, before Varane's interception allows Les Bleus to hit on the counter.
Georgia with a rare break forward through Targamadze, but the cross in through the middle doesn't faze Lloris at all.
Pogba wins back the ball, after Benzema was dispossessed, but the referee Ivan Bebek rules in favour of the opposition. Free-kick.
BENZEMA! It's just not his night is it. Superbly played in along the left side of the box, he again has time to beat Loria with a placed finish, but the goalkeeper holds strong to bat away his shot.
Well, they're queuing up now. Valbuena again the creative force, with Pogba showing his superb physical strength to hold onto the ball. Unable to get past the defender with the blocked shot.
France look for a third as Ribery and Pogba combine through the middle. Hurriedly cleared by Kashia, but the hosts start again.
French pressure continues, they suddenly look more sharp after the break. A long ball from Sakho cros-field towards Jallet can't be kept in by the right-back. No matter how high he jumps, and he's jumped pretty high for that!
France look comfortable on the ball now, with the added bonus of a two-goal lead. Elsewhere in Group I, Spain are 1-0 up against Finland, thanks to Sergio Ramos' goal on the night of his 100th cap. Shaping up to be a superb game on Tuesday.
Assist Franck Ribéry
Goal Mathieu Valbuena
An instant start for Les Bleus in the second half, helped by a wondrous goal from Valbuena. He's easily been man of the match so afr, and has sent the fans into raptures. No way back for Georgia?
GOAL! MATHIEU VALBUENA MAKES IT 2-0! Nice pass from Ribery and into the path of the Marseille man, who lifts it up, and slams it into the top corner. Magnifique!
Back for the second half here in Paris, it's France 1-0 Georgia. The visitors get us started again, attacking from left to right. Can France improve?
Half-time in Paris, and France lead Georgia 1-0 thanks to Giroud's header right at the interval point. It's been an entertaining game so far, with chances at both ends, and a few howlers to boot. Les Bleus have been dominating, and rightly so - join us again in 15 for the second half.
45' + 1'
Assist Mathieu Valbuena
45' + 1'
Goal Olivier Giroud
GOAL! FRANCE HAVE TAKEN THE LEAD! Finally! It's a superb delivery from Valbuena, arguably the best player in this first half, as Giroud gets forward to head the ball past the goalkeeper. A great way to end the first half.
45' + 1'
HALF-TIME: France 1-0 Georgia (Giroud 45 1)
Free-kick to France, Valbuena taking with ONE MINUTE added on at the end of the first half.
Will France begin to rue those missed chances? Another fantastic chance for the visitors, as a corner is threateningly whipped in and Varane is forced to hold off Daushvili before it flies harmlessly out of play.
Kobakhidze! What a chance, and it's a stunning save from Hugo Lloris! The first time he has been bothered tonight, but he's forced to parry away a stinging shot from distance. Sakho the culprit, and Georgia have a corner.
Kobakhidze with the space to run down the right wing, and despite being held off by Clichy, he wins the throw-in decision. It's now Georgia who press, with Ananidze progressing forward.
Ananidze! A rare Georgian attack sees the young starlet race forward and capitalise on a loose ball. But his left footed effort flies well wide of the post. France can be susceptible to these opportunities.
BENZEMA! Tough crowd, huh? Boos rign out after a scuffed shot from the Real Madrid star flies horribly wide despite a favourable position. Eight minutes to go until half-time.
Just for how long are France going to be knocking on Georgia's door? We've had three great chances in this game, and yet it remains 0-0 as Valbeuna's curling ball is cleaned up at the back by Kvirkvelia
Another promising move for Les Bleus breaks down in the final third. Ribery unable to race past his marker, with two men on him before Giroud skips past Kashia, though his tame shot is saved by Loria.
Lovely tackle by Sakho to nullify a Georgian attack, but Pogba leads Les Bleus back up the field. Ribery and Matuidi connecting, before the PSG man gives the ball away. Ananidze for Georgia now...
GIROUD! Horrible miss. What a chance for France, and it's gone begging. Brilliant pass over the top from Valbeuna, into a one v one for Giroud. He rightly opts to lob the goalkeeper, but the touch was so heavy, it's gone well over the bar.
Spurred on by that chance, France hit the counter again as Benzema delivers in a cross from the right, too long for Ribery.
Amisulashvili!!! What a chance for Georgia, their first one of the game. Against the run of play, completely, a cross into the box is headed on by the captain, and it's saved by Lloris ON THE LINE! What a shock that would've been.
Deschamps' men have all the chances going at the minute, but they are unable to convert them. Another cross in causes problems, with Pogba's through ball to Benzema cut out.
POGBA! Almost a goal there. Awkward punch from Loria from a speculative cross, as the ball lands at the feet of Jallet, who in turn sets up the Juventus youngster. After a quick swivel to disguise the path of the ball, Pogba's first-time shot is saved.
BENZEMA! Good chance, taken early. After being played through by Valbuena, the Real Madrid hitman curls it low with his right foot on the edge of the area. Easy for Loria.
Matuidi plays the ball out of defence, threading it through the middle but Benzema cannot connect well with it. The visitors are again afforded slight hope of a counter-attack, but that too is quickly snuffed out
Kobakhidze attempts to ignite the Georgian attack, combining well in the middle with Daushvili, but they are forced to play the ball back all the way to the goalkeeper before Lobzhanidze concedes the ball.
Still 0-0 in Paris, as Deschamps' side continue to terrorise their opponents. Geprgia have been unable to keep the ball for more than five seconds with their insistence to counter being well defended against.
And the pressure continues as Ribery volleys a shot into the ground and back into the arms of Loria. The right wing is being utilised well by the French, with Valbuena, Pogba and Jallet particularly active.
BENZEMA! What a howler. Should've been 1-0. Again, amazing play from Valbuena who bursts down the right and crosses low for Giroud. The Arsenal man holds the ball well under prssure and tees up Benzema, who from four yards out sees his shot saved by Loria.
It's a rather unsurprising 71% to 29% of possession in favour of France. They've dominated this period, but are unable to unlock the tight-knit Georgian back four.
Further pressure from the hosts as Valbuena nutmegs his opponent, but unable to maintain possession. Pogba also proving to be a threat in the final third. Georgia are unable to get out of their own half!
Ooh, Varane being pulled all over the place by captain Amisulashvili as the corner drifts over the heads of those in the box. It almost opens up a chance for a break, but France reclaim possession.
Still, France are dominating after a slow start. Jallet's beautiful cross from the right is intended for Giroud, but Amisulashvili is on hand to head away for a corner.
Georgia attack through Ananidze, but it's quickly fizzled out. The young Spartak star has been hailed as one of the best prospects to come out of Georgia in recent times. Can he inspire the Crusaders this evening?
Georgia will have to be careful with that back line after being exposed by Ribery. The winger meanwhile, didn't sing the national anthem along with Benzema, who was roundly slammed in France this week.
RIBERY! IT'S HIT THE BAR! So close from the Bayern star. Superb France play as Valbuena feeds through the former Marseille man, who eventually cuts in along the left, embarking on a good run, only to see his curling effort come back off the bar.
Lobjanidze races on the right to loud boos after being fed through by Ananidze, but Man City's Gael Clichy halts his progress. A rare moment on the ball from the visitors.
Roars of 'Allez France' goes up, but there isn't much action on the pitch as Les Bleus continue to bide their time to keep possession. Jallet appeals for handball, but play continues as Benzema drops deep to help out.
France keeping possession, as Matuidi, Sakho and Clichy all combine harmoniously. A long ball from the PSG defender into Giroud sees him crowded out by Kashia.
First touch from new debutant Paul Pogba, as his ball fails to find Christophe Jallet on the right, and harmlessly bobbles towards Giorgi Loria in the Georgia goal.
KICK OFF! France get us started, attacking from left to right in their rather dashing new light blue colour. About 70,000 in the stadium tonight.
Here we go with the national anthems, first Georgia and the familiar tune of La Marseillaise of France.
The teams currently training at a reasonably full Stade de France, just north of Paris. France will promote their new away kit of light blue. Think Coventry City.
TEAM NEWS: As expected, with L'Equipe announcing earlier this afternoon that Varane and Pogba would both be handed starts. It's a 4-4-2 formation with Giroud and Benzema up top, whilst Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is omitted from the entire matchday squad altogether. Koscielny rested ahead of Spain on Tuesday. For Georgia, Ketsbaia names largely the expected starting 11, which includes Jano Ananidze of Spartak Moscow.
GEORGIA: Loria; Lobjanidze, Amisulashvili, Khizanishvili, Kvirkvelia; Daushvili, Ananidze, Targmadze, Kobakhidze; Vatsadze
FRANCE: Lloris - Jallet, Varane, Sakho, Clichy - Pogba, Matuidi - Valbuena, Ribery - Benzema, Giroud
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS:
What of our Eastern European guests I hear you cry? Georgia, coached by Temuri Ketsbaia - of Newcastle fame, has led his side to third in Group I, three points behind the leaders, and ahead of Belarus, who briefly shone at Euro 2012 qualifying. Ranked 69th in the world, the side which boasts talents such as Jano Ananidze and Zurab Khizanishvili have not won in two previous encounters against France, going down to Samir Nasri's strike in a 1-0 defeat last time out in 2007.
What sort of France line-up can we expect tonight? The dazzling young duo of Paul Pogba (Juventus) and Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) have been handed call-ups, and may yet feature in tonight's fixture. Problems at right-back have seen Christophe Jallet (doubtful) and Marseille's Rod Fanni drafted in, with Anthony Reveillere overlooked. The World Cup winner has also hinted that he may try a 4-4-2 formation this evening, but all will be revealed soon.
Les Bleus dug deep back in October to claim a late, late 1-1 draw against world champions Spain in Madrid, and with La Roja visiting the City of Lights next week, and both sides locked at the top on seven points, the onus is on Deschamps' side to claim all three points against Georgia - a side that they've met twice before, and never conceded a goal against....yet.
Didier Deschamps' side might have started 2013 with a 2-1 defeat to Germany, but there was plenty of positives in that game for the former Marseille boss to contend with. Tonight sees France welcome Georgia in the second of three home fixtures to kick off what could be a testing 2013 for the national side.
I'm Mohammed Ali, and I'll be guiding you through today's events for the next two hours. Don't forget to use Twitter to send us your predictions, musings and comments and tell me what you think throughout the 90 minutes - the handle is @mohammedali_93. Also, don't forget to interact with the Goal.com MatchCentre, on the box to your right.
Good evening and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE! text commentary of the World Cup qualifier between France and Georgia, at the Stade de France in northern Paris. Group I is hotly contested, with just five teams, can France perform tonight ahead of a mammoth fixture against Spain? Find out here!
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