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March 25, 2011
• Stade Josy Barthel, Lëtzebuerg (Luxembourg)
Referee: T. Hagen
• Attendance: 8052
P. Mexès 28'
Y. Gourcuff 72'
90' + 3'
That's it from me tonight, but make sure you follow all the post-match reaction and analysis live on Goal.com. Until next time, take care.
90' + 2'
The referee's full-time whistle sounds, marking a six consecutive win for les Bleus. Laurent Blanc will certainly expect his team to play a good deal better in forthcoming fixtures, but they remain in a strong position to qualify for Euro 2012 with a thoroughly professional victory.
Two minutes of injury time to be played.
Promising break for France but Benzema strays needlessly offside as Ribery advanced with the ball, thwarting their scoring chances.
Wonderful pass over the top of the home defence by Mexes to Benzema, who lays the ball back for Ribery. Joubert saved with his feet and then Benzema bent the rebound just wide.
Just five minutes left for Luxembourg to somehow get back into this. They've not even scored in the qualifying campaign yet.
Yellow Card Mario Mutsch
Harsh yellow card for Mutsch, who is booked for taking the free kick short too quickly... His second attempt is awful; much too hard, meaning the ball drifts out for a goal kick.
M'Vila a little harshly penalised for a foul right on the edge of the box. Mario Mutsch did well going down the left, starting the move with a backheel before winning the free kick.
France continue to probe away at the home defence with patience. Malouda is hacked down in the middle of the park by Da Motta, and les Bleus go short.
...but it's a poor one. Joubert commands his box well and claims the ball easily.
Free kick France, well out on the left 30 yards from goal. Nasri to take...
BENZEMA! That's a remarkable miss! Ribery again gets down the left effectively, crossing for Malouda to miss-hit a shot to Benzema. From six yards out, the striker seemed to think he was offside, flicking the ball over the top, but the flag stayed down!
After that flurry, the game has again settled down. France are still pushing forward, but they've offered no meaningful threat in the last couple of minutes.
That was nearly another! Ribery is suddenly alive, and plays a lovely pass over the top to Benzema, who can't quite shake his marker as he pulled the ball down.
GAME OVER - GOURCUFF SCORES! Ribery continues down the left, sending a low cross into the box. Luxembourg can only clear as far as they edge of the box, and Gourcuff finishes well with a low left-footed shot from the edge of the box.
Goal Yoann Gourcuff
Gerson goes off after a great shift. Daniel da Mota, who recently scored twice in a win over Slovakia, comes on.
D. da Mota
Ribery shoots, but it's two or three yards over the top. That's really disappointing.
For all of France's domination, they still lead by one one goal, so no slips can be afforded. Ribery drifts to the left and immediately wins a free kick from Schnell. This is a position reminiscent of the one they scored from during the first half...
Some lovely slick passing from France, the kind of which we've not seen enough of this evening. Luxembourg have to scramble to clear as les Bleus up the tempo around their box.
Ribery's difficult second half continues as he can't get away from Hoffmann down the right, committing a foul as he attempted to burst past the centre-back.
BENZEMA!! Great work from Malouda down the left, getting away from one player before playing a great diagonal pass to Benzema. Having pulled a difficult ball down, he danced inside two defenders before shooting into the side netting from a tight angle!
RAMI.... After his mistake a moment ago, Rami nearly struck France's second goal. He's given a free header in the box, but his effort goes almost straight at Joubert. Perhaps that should have been 2-0!
A lack of communication in the France defence causes moments of real panic. Rami heads poorly clear before Evra failed to complete the job. Bettmer gathered possession at the edge of the box but should have shot first time. Sagna defends well for France.
Ribery tried a clever backheel on the edge of the box, but his effort simply strikes his own leg. That rather sums up les Bleus' evening so far!
Oh... Nice interception from Blaise, cutting out a dangerous pass from M'Vila heading for Nasri. Luxembourg got forward well but Evra got back to make a good challenge on Martino.
Nice footwork from Evra there, getting away from Martino down the left. His pass to Malouda seems to unleash the winger, but the flag is raised, indicating offside.
Nasri is still on the ground after that last challenge. He'll need some treatment.
Nasri coughs up the ball to Gerson, setting in motion a break that ends with Joachim tamely striking wide. The Arsenal man's done that a little too often tonight.
Fine challenge from Sagna on Mutsch, who's had a pretty steady game tonight. Luxembourg do still pose something of a threat.
The game's settled down rather now. France's play is a little scrappy, but the hosts aren't good enough - so far - to make any headway.
First change of the game. Laterza goes off, having had a pretty good game, and Martino comes on.
Really poor delivery from Hoffmann, who manages to pick out the only area of the penalty box without a home player in it. M'Vila tidies up easily.
Mexes may have scored, but some of his defending has been pretty sloppy. He concedes another free kick 25 yards out, giving the hosts a chance...
More good play from Malouda, who tried to slid a reverse pass to Benzema. The ball just runs away from the Real Madrid man in the corner of the pitch though.
Nasri's kick is positively punched clear by Joubert. France retain possession, but not in a dangerous area.
Now Malouda goes on a surge. He was a little ineffective in the first half, but he draws the foul from Schnell near the left touchline.
France are quickly on the front foot, but Hoffmann does well to tidy up as Benzema threatened.
Welcome back! Luxembourg ready to kick us off in the second period, trailing 1-0.
45' + 3'
Half-time. It's not been great from France, but the important thing is that they're 1-0 up. Laurent Blanc will doubtless try and extract a better performance from his side after the break, but they've done the bare minimum thus far.
45' + 2'
Ribery raids down the right side again, but his cross is cleared as Benzema waited to pounce at the back post.
45' + 1'
Sagna's cross is only half cleared by Blaise, but Malouda's shot is easily scooped up Joubert.
Really ambitious effort from Joachim, who tried to hook a lob over Lloris from the halfway line. The effort was well off target though.
Luxembourg seem to have weathered the storm. They'll be happy to finish the half 1-0 down though.
BENZEMA!!! Brilliant counter from France. Benzema takes on Hoffmann down the left, leaving him floored with a great step over. A goal looked on the cards, but Blaise did very well to get back and make a crucial block.
Les Bleus win yet another corner, but elect to go long. Luxembourg clear easily.
France go short with the corner again, channelling the ball out to Sagna at the edge of the box. His effort isn't bad, but Joubert saved and Mutsch completed the clearance.
Great tackle Schnell! Malouda got in behind the defence and appeared poised to score before the right-back got to him with a well-timed sliding challenge.
Malouda initially went short to Gourcuff, but on receiving the return pass, he clipped the ball to the back post, where Schnell headed clear.
Another deep diagonal ball from Gourcuff is headed out for a corner by Mutsch.
After taking the lead, France look a good deal more self-assured. They didn't look particularly assured in possession previously, but now they look far more comfortable and are dictating this match as one might expect.
Benzema shows some neat skill out in the left channel to control a high ball, but Schnell gets back to challenge. Corner France, but it's over hit by Gourcuff, whose struggled again tonight.
Again Luxembourg come at France, with a tame header easily saved by Lloris. Les Bleus still have work to do!
Ribery involved again, this time trying to feed Benzema. The idea's good, but there's too much pace on it.
Some nice coherent football there from France. Ribery attempts to play a one-two with Nasri, but Hoffmann gets a toe to the ball.
France now look happy to be patient. Previously they were forcing the play, but now they're content to go square and take their time in building up attacks.
There will be a fair bit of relief in the French camp; they looked rather pedestrian in the opening stages of this game.
AND THEY HAVE MADE SOMETHING OF IT! Nasri clipped the ball simply into the back post, and Mexes rose to head a routine effort into the corner. That's his first goal for France!
Assist Samir Nasri
Goal Philippe Mexes
Malouda wrestles his way inside off the left touchling and wins a free kick in an excellent area. After a poor start, France will want to make something of this.
Great challenge from Gerson on Benzema. The Kongsvinger player has been excellent tonight.
Payal has a shot from 30 yards, but his effort rises well over Lloris' goal.
Sloppy from Benzema, who gives the ball straight to Gerson. Luxembourg break quickly, but Joachim is too isolated to make anything of it.
More frustration for France. Nasri this time is robbed. Luxembourg are playing well as a unit, but les Bleus have really been lamentable so far. They need to get Ribery more involved.
Laterza will be fine to continue, taking his place on the right of the home side's midfield.
Nearly a controversial chance for France, who play on as Laterza goes down under an Evra challenge. Les Bleus play on, but the ball goes through all the way to Joubert.
Great cheers ring out around the stadium as the hosts string a series of good one-touch passes together in the centre of the field. The move ultimately breaks down, but it goes to show how confident the hosts are.
MALOUDA! Sagna over-lapped impressively down the right, delivering a fine ball into the middle for Malouda. On the stretch, the Chelsea man shot high over the top. Better from France!
Oh... Ribery tried to slide a pass through to Benzema, though a great challenge from Schnell prevents the ball reaching the Real Madrid striker, who was wrongly flagged offside in the process.
France have started poorly. They've not seriously troubled Joubert after more than quarter of an hour.
Benzema is clattered from behind by Hoffmann 35 yards out. Gourcuff drives it into the box, but the hosts easily head clear.
Another mistake from Evra, allowing a routine pass under his foot and out for a throw.
Evra may be back in blue, but he's not looking his usual self yet. Laterza takes him one, and the man who plays for Ligue 2 Sedan's reserves draws a foul.
The hosts have only lost one of their last four games and certainly look pretty confident at the moment. Another France attack, which comes down the left, is broken up.
Luxembourg certainly aren't sitting back as much as one might expect. They've given a good account of themselves thus far, enjoying a brief spell of pressure that is only arrested when Lloris claims a cross.
A quick break from Luxembourg yields a free kick. Luxembourg try a training ground move but Lloris is quick to read the danger, scooping up the ball easily. Nice idea, though.
OH... First real moment of danger from France. A great break down the right, results in the over-lapping Sagna crossing low. The cross is just too far ahead of Gourcuff, who would sure have scored from 10 yards out!
Much of the pre-match talk has surrounded Ribery. He gets on his first charge, attacking Hoffmann. The Bayern man went down softly under the challenge and doesn't get the free kick wide on the right.
Some nice possession from Luxembourg. Joachim looks like he's going to hold the ball up very well for the white-clad hosts.
Benzema rises with Schnell and gets the benefit of the doubt as the ball goes out of play. Corner to France. Gourcuff's ball is towards Rami, who gets his head to the ball but there's no-one closing in at the back post to take advantage.
Bettmer wins the header, but his knock-down isn't into a dangerous area. Luxembourg are quick to funnel all 11 players behind the ball.
Joachim holds the ball up well for Luxembourg and draws a rather clumsy foul from Mexes. The hosts will see this as a chance...
Patient start from France, but immediately Benzema gets between the two centre-backs to latch onto a long ball. A handball stops his progress.
France get us underway!
The teams are coming out and just about ready for the anthems. About two or three minutes to kick off, so settle in for the match!
FRANCE : Lloris - Sagna, Rami, Mexes, Evra - M'Vila, Gourcuff - Ribery, Nasri (cap.), Malouda - Benzema.
Here are the line-ups: LUXEMBOURG : Joubert; Schnell, Blaise, Hoffmann (cap.), Mutsch; Laterza, Payal, Gerson, Bettmer, Leweck; Joachim.
Good evening and welcome to Luxembourg City, where the hosts are looking to cause a sensation by defeating France. Les Bleus have taken the scalps of England and Brazil recently, so a comfortable win should be on the cards, but they were made to work hard to win the first encounter between these sides and won't anticipate an easy ride.
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