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September 6, 2013
• Boris Paichadzis Erovnuli Stadioni, Tbilisi
Referee: F. Aydinus
• Attendance: 26360
What a dramatic ending! What a goalkeeping performance from Loria. Georgia have held France to a 0-0 draw, meaning the 1998 world champions face a massive fight to secure qualification to the World Cup!
90' + 5'
AND THAT'S IT! FT: Georgia 0-0 France
90' + 4'
Giroud looking for a penalty after taking a tumble in the area, but it was a blatant push from the defender.
90' + 4'
Georgia play the corner shot, and almost invitingly give the ball back to Lloris. But it's Okriashvili on the counter, and surely that's it.....
90' + 3'
Dramatic ending to the game in Tbilisi. Targmadze wins a throw-in for Georgia at the other end, and we're well into the penultimate minute of the game.
90' + 2'
AND SAGNA!! He's hit the post, after another stunning Loria save. DFrance unable to beat the goalkeeper, who deflects Sagna's header onto the post. Replays show IT DIDN'T CROSS THE LINE.
90' + 1'
GIROUD! What a header, and what a save by Loria! He's denied at the end. No-one tracked the run of the striker, who connects with a fine header, but Loria on hand to crawl the ball off the line.
Into the first of FOUR added minutes signalled in Tbilisi.
Free-kick headed away by Abidal, and Georgia play it all the way back to Loria. But France have regained the ball, and it's Sissoko making progress in midfield. But they are literally up against a wall.
Okriashvili wonderfully skills his way out of a tight spot under challenge of Bacary Sagna. Free-kick to Georgia, and more minutes eaten up.
Yellow Card Giorgi Loria
And still the onslaught continues, as Abidal revives a flagging move from Nasri. Into the path of Ribery, but he's crowded out. Superb defending. Georgia are really taking this game fo France!
KOSCIELNY! No, its just wide. Super delivery from Nasri, at a nice height for Koscielny, but the jump wasn't executed well, and it's headed narrowly wide of the post
France have yet another chance, Valbuena's mazy run sees him felled by Kankava, the Georgia captain.Free-kick right outside the area. Tension, they need a goal! Nasri to take.
VALBUENA!! Oh, another wonderful save from Loria! The Marseille midfielder cuts in and attempts to curl towards the far post, and it's superbly held by the Georgian number one.
RIBERY! Stunning save by Loria! Not sure the goalkeeper knew much about that, seeing the ball late. The winger strikes from distance, and it's punched away by the goalkeeper.
KOSCIELNY! Oh he's failed to connect with the ball. Another positive opening turns out to be a half-chance from the defender. Valbuena's corner, helped on by Giroud is not cleared by the defence, but the move ultimately fizzles out.
France still trying their luck, as Nasri fails with a drilled shot on the half-volley. Meanwhile, Koscielny wins a free-kick after a foul from Dvalishvili.
Evra with a cross in behind, but it hits the side netting and clipped the crossbar, but the Man Utd left-back has taken a knock here, after a challenge from Lobzhanidze.
SUBSTITUTION - Georgia: Gelashvili is off for Dvalishvili in these final stages.
SUBSTITUTION - France: Josuha Guilavogui, who sealed a move to Atletico Madrid on Monday, is off for Samir Nasri.
Slight delay in play as Eric Abidal receives a bit of treatment, but he should be OK. Meanwhile, Didier Deschamps preparing to bring on Dimitri Payet and Samir Nasri.
GIROUD! it's just not his night. Outside the area, the Arsenal striker collects the ball, but sees his shot dragging wide past Loria's left post. Poor strike from the former Montpellier man.
Deschamps' men noticeably defensive once more, and failing to add a bit of spark to a flagging attack. One goal scored since their 3-1 win over Georgia in March.
19 minutes to go here in Tbilisi. Okriashvili wins a free-kick after being challenged by Evra on the left wing. Another set-piece for the French defence to contend with.
GIROUD! The chances keep piling up for the French. Another woeful miss. The full-backs have been efficient tonight, as Sagna races down the byline to set up Evra, whose shot is wide, but deflected towards goal by Giroud on the backheel. Over the bar.
SUBSTITUTION: Georgia - the brilliant Ananidze comes off for David Targamadze.
Didier Deschamps men need a goal in these last 20 minutes, or risk confirming a place in the play-offs for the World Cup in November. Spain ahead v Finland, it's do or die here for the French.
Georgia readying two substitutions now, as they continue to absorb the pressure posed on them by the French.
CHANCE FOR FRANCE! Ribery is teed up by Evra, who retrieves the ball on the overlap. Another low ball in, but Giroud fails to get the slightest of touches in, as Amisulashvili gets the ball away at the death. Cleared hurriedly.
Ananidze with a superb blazing run across the midfield. Stunning burst of pace from the 20-year-old starlet, on loan at Rostov. He wins a corner off Bacary Sagna, but again it fails to materialise into something serious.
OVER THE BAR! Another flowing France move sees Sissoko tee up Sagna once more on the right. Another beautiful ball from the right, but Giroud's header fails to test Loria.
SUBSTITUTION: France - Andre-Pierre Gignac replaces Karim Benzema. The Marseille forward has made a first return to the national team since the ill fated World Cup debacle in 2010.
On the hour mark, and it looks like both sides are readying substitutions. Andre Pierre Gignac of Marseille to come on, Grigalashvili to come on for Georgia.
Karim Benzema is now without a goal for 1,200 minutes for France. And we've smashed the 20 hour barrier. Such a wayward header.
Sissoko finds Sagna on the edge of the area, and the Arsenal right-back floats in an inch-perfect cross, but its headed horribly wide by Karim Benzema.
Safe to say Ribery's influence has dwindeled since the opening exchanges, and he's not really had a look-in since. Another link-up with Giroud, but his cross into the danger zone is blocked by Kashia.
GELASHVILI! Good chance, but again not doing much to test Lloris. The forward holds off Evra, but sees his effort saved by the Tottenham goalkeeper.
France at the other end hoping to recover from their slight malaise, as Giroud powers past his marker, directs the ball towards Evra, who takes a tumble in the box.
Poor free-kick from Kobakhidze on this occasion, as Georgia continue to threaten les Bleus goal. Headed away by Sissoko at the first attempt.
Chance for Georgia! Gelashvili races forward and tees up Kobakhidze, who makes a superb run off the left, but races offside by just a fraction. France on the back foot.
GEORGIA HIT THE POST! Wow, France survive. Fantastic overlapping play on the flanks, as Kobakhidze drills a ball in towards Okriashvili, whose first attempt hits Lloris, it's spilled, before slamming against the post.
Offside call against Benzema, who latched onto a lofted high pass from the midfield. Meanwhile, Gignac is warming up on the touchline here.
Much better from les Bleus so far in this second half, they've barely given Georgia a sniff after the restart. Valbuena attempts to link up with Benzema, but he's forced to set play back to the defence.
UNDERWAY AGAIN IN TBILISI! France get us going in this second period, attacking from right to left. They do need a goal in this half.
The sides are out for the second half. No changes to report at the break.
HALF-TIME in Tbilisi. France have been the better of the two sides, but Georgia are holding out superbly, especially along the flanks and in central midfield. Ribery and Benzema have both had good chances, but it remains 0-0.
HALF-TIME: Georgia 0-0 France
Georgia threaten at the other end, but the ball towards Gelashvili is short, allowing France to reclaim possession. Lloris has had a quiet 45 minutes so far.
Ananidze has, along with Okriashvili been the better of the Georgia midfielders this evening, but the Rostov midfielder has been unable to hold possession for more than a few seconds each time.
Five minutes left of the half, and France have been unable to break down Georgia yet, with host goalkeeper Loria making only one meaningful save this half.
Meanwhile, in Helsinki - Spain have taken a 1-0 lead against Finland, with Jordi Alba opening the scoring. They lead France by three points currently.
Yellow Card Tornike Okriashvili
Free-kick taken by Valbuena, delivered in towards Giroud, but ti's too close to the goalkeeper who punches away. Benzema attempts to revive the move, but fails.
Benzema and Giroud combine, with Evra overlapping on the wing. the ball is eventually crossed into the box, but Sissoko races forward to strike, before being superbly upended by Okriashvili. Yellow card.
Valbuena advances down the right wing, but fails to get past the challenge of Lobzhanidze. Sissoko on the ball now, towards Giroud, but Okriashvili dispossesses with a fine tackle.
VALBUENA! France getting close. Again it's one pass which splits the Georgia defence, but the Marseille winger's shot is torrid, as it flies over Loria's bar.
Sagna becoming a bit of a nuisance on the right wing, as Lobzhanidze concedes a free-kick on the wing. Valbuena to take this one.
Further attacking pressure from the visitors, as Ribery cuts in and strikes at goal once more, Kobakhidze on hand to see the ball away, and now it's Georgia who attack through Ananidze.
BENZEMA!! Could've been his chance there. Ball is played into the path of the striker, whose shot just inside the area is saved by Loria, and cleared by Kashia - but the pressure is not off yet.
Tempo's dropped off since the opening minutes, as France look to out pass their opponents. Georgia, meanwhile, look able to stem the French tide at the moment.
Good save from Lloris! Free-kick drifted in by Kobakhidze, cleared by Guilavogui, but again only into the path of a Georgian shirt - this time that of Okriashvili, whose venomous shot on the volley is well saved by Lloris.
Corner comes in from the right from Valbuena. Delivered in towards Guilavogui, but a poor header sees it harmlessly fly behind for a Georgia goal-kick.
France lowering the tempo slightly as they probe an opening. Valbuena is operating more centrally, as well as featuring on the right, and has won a corner for his efforts.
Legitimate shouts for a penalty there for France. Ribery expertly controls a ball and attempts to locate Benzema, but the ball bobbles up and off the arm of Lobzhanidze. No call from the referee.
Sagna collects the ball on the right, holding strong under the challenge of Grigalava and Kobakhidze. Valbuena comes forward to support, but the winger's cross into the box for Kashia.
KANKAVA! What a strike, but ultimately, it's wide from the number seven. Superb delvivery from the right by Okriashvili, headed away into the path of Kankava, who strikes on the volley.
Quarter of an hour gone in Tbilisi and it's Georgia 0-0 France. Over in Helsinki, Finland have kicked off against Spain in the other Group I match taking place this evening.
France caught unawares at the back as Okriashvili capitalises on the space behind the defence to thread a neat ball towards Gelashvili, but the Georgian forward is ruled offside.
RIBERY!! Almost a goal. Dazzling move from Benzema, who opens up the hosts' defence. Feeds Ribery to his left, as the Bayern man cuts in, holds off three defenders before sending a low effort into the side netting.
Ribery certainly in the mood out there on the left wing. Another bit of skill to beat Kankava, but the Georgia skipper tracks back well to disposess the winger, and retrieve the ball - before winning a free-kick.
France applying the pressure once again. Ball played out wide for Bacary Sagna to give chase, but his first time delivery isn't as good as it could be, with Loria racing out to claim possession.
RIBERY! What a move. Stunning skills showed by the Bayern Munich man who dribbles past his opponents with ease. His ball into the box is dealt with at first, but falls invitingly for Sissoko, whose shot is blocked.
Corner comes to nothing for the hosts, after it's cleared at the first attempts. Positive movements from Ketsbaia's men, but not testing Lloris at the moment.
Free-kick to Georgia, after a foul 30 metres from goal. Delivered in by Kobakhidze at the near post, but headed behind by Moussa Sissoko. Corner to Georgia.
Will we be seeing a goal from Karim Benzema tonight? The Real Madrid forward has not scored for Les Bleus in 1155 minutes - that's 19hrs and 15 minutes to you and I! Meanwhile, Guilavogui's shot towards goal is easily saved by Loria.
France on the other hand advance with Benzema feeding Valbuena on the edge of the area. A lovely ball from the Marseille man into Ribery on the wing, but the cross is headed away by Amisulashvili.
Positive start from Georgia, led by Ananidze through the middle. Darts past Guilavogui, but stopped by Sissoko before progressing any further.
UNDEWAY IN TBILISI! Referee Aydinus gets us going, after a brief delay from the smoke emanating from the fireworks and firecrackers in the stands. Georgia get us going, attacking from right to left.
The teams are out at the national stadium of Georgia, which will host the UEFA Super Cup in 2015. Great atmosphere from the hosts' fans. Kick-off imminent, tonight's referee is Firat Aydinus from Turkey.
Despite feeling a bit uncomfortable in the warm up, Olivier Giroud is deemed fit to start for France against Georgia. Earlier worries that he'd miss out.
FRANCE: Lloris; Sagna, Koscielny, Abidal, Evra; Guilavogui, Sissoko; Ribéry, Valbuena; Benzema, Giroud
GEORGIA: Loria, Lobjanidze, Grigalava, Kashia, Amisulashvili, Khubutia, Kobakhidze, Gelashvili, Kankava, Ananidze, Okriashvili.
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS
These two sides met in March at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, with Les Bleus running out 3-1 winners on the night. Georgia, are likely to go the same way tonight too.
Georgia coach Temuri Ketsbaia is under pressure with six defeats in eight games, with the Eastern European side without a win since last September. They were beaten by Republic of Ireland and Denmark in June, followed by a goalless draw with Kazakhstan in the August friendlies.
Deschamps has recalled in-form Marseille striker Andre-Pierre Gignac to help solve Les Bleus' scoring troubles, but the former OM boss has indicated he'll start Arsenal's Olivier Giroud - who struck the winner in Sunday's North London derby, alongside misfiring Karim Benzema, who has gone 11 hours without a goal for the national side.
But tonight is mainly about Deschamps' men turning a corner after a succession of defeats in 2013, which has seen the national team falter. They've won just one of their games this year, having failed to score in each of their last four - including a disastrous South American tour to Brazil and Uruguay in June.
France are looking to play catch up after a 1-0 home defeat to Group I leaders Spain in March sees them one point adrift with three games left to play. With the world champions unlikely to lose points against Finland, Belarus and Georgia, France may already be resigned to their fate in the play-offs.
Good evening, and welcome to tonight's live commentary of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier between Georgia and France from the Boris Paichadze Stadium in Tbilisi. I'm Mohammed Ali, and I'll be bringing you coverage over the next two hours.
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