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WC Qualification Europe

  • October 16, 2012
  • • 3:00 PM
  • • Estadio Vicente Calderón, Madrid
  • Referee: F. Brych
  • • Attendance: 46825

Spain 1-1 France: Giroud strikes late to earn Deschamps' side vital point

The Arsenal striker's late intervention in a dramatic game saw Les Bleus' record a morale-boosting draw in the race for Brazil 2014.

Spain hopes of a 25th consecutive win in qualifying were dashed after a last minute goal saw France record a 1-1 draw in an entertaining World Cup qualifying Group I clash at Vicente Calderon.

The opener came in the 25th minute through Sergio Ramos, who needed two attempts to divert the ball into the net after earlier hitting the bar. Despite French pressure, Cesc Fabregas would see a penalty saved by Hugo Lloris, with France being denied an equalizer due to the offside flag.

The visitors stepped up the pressure in the second half, but despite numerous opportunities, it wasn't until the 93rd minute in which substitute Olivier Giroud netted to secure a dramatic equalizer.

The world champions started the more emphatic of the two sides, with Jordi Alba causing havoc on the left wing. France, meanwhile would have to contend with a seriously inexperienced midfield, with Maxime Gonalons handed only his fifth cap ahead of Etienne Capoue.

Nevertheless, it would be Vicente del Bosque's men who would suffer the first blow. David Silva only lasted 12 minutes before being substituted in favor of Arsenal's Santi Cazorla, with the Manchester City star hobbling down the tunnel.

Didier Deschamps' men quickly slipped into the lull which marked their Euro 2012 exit at the hands of La Roja, and it seemed that history would repeat itself as Andres Iniesta galloped down the flank before a brilliant interjection by the returning Laurent Koscielny inside the box.

It wasn't long until the hosts took the lead, amidst poor defending from Les Bleus. Xavi's corner was imperiously met by Sergio Ramos, who would first head against the bar. Pedro's cross back into the danger-zone was parried by Hugo Lloris before the Real Madrid defender converted after 25 minutes to seize the advantage.

The visitors were in the ascendancy after conceding, and almost issued a response nine minutes later. Franck Ribery's simple pass found Karim Benzema in the box, with the striker forcing club teammate Iker Casillas into a fine low save as Deschamps' side rallied.

France would see a goal ruled out five minutes before the break. A brilliant delivery from Yohan Cabaye found Benzema at the far post, with the 24-year-old heading past Casillas, only for the German linesman to rule it out for offside, though replays would suggest otherwise.

Defensive instability came back to haunt the visitors, as Koscielny clattered into Pedro, with referee Felix Brych not hesitating to award a penalty. Up stepped Cesc Fabregas, whose powerful effort was superbly parried away by Lloris. The Tottenham custodian then produced a fantastic double save to deny Fabregas and Pedro just before the interval as La Roja failed to extend their advantage.

The hosts started the second half with similar injury concerns after Alvaro Arbeloa was forced off after a challenge by Ribery, with Atletico Madrid's Juanfran replacing the right-back. Though France did improve, creating more frequent attacking forays, it would continuously struggle against the speed of the hosts' passing movements.

Ribery was once more in the thick of things, as his fizzing shot from the edge of the box whistled narrowly past Casillas' post, before a tame header would be an easy catch for the captain. At the other end, Alba's surge to the by-line was hurriedly countered by Mamadou Sakho with the French noticeably on top.

The visitors were far more enterprising midway through the second period, and were unlucky not to have equalized once more as Benzema's movement on the left provided a low cross in towards Jeremy Menez, with the PSG winger unable to connect with what would've been a simple tap-in.

The lively Benzema would once more get in behind the Spanish rearguard after latching onto a fine pass from the midfield, before his cross into Moussa Sissoko at the far post would be poorly fired over by the Toulouse midfielder as Les Bleus' frantic search for a deserved goal was prolonged.

Indeed the wait would last until the 93rd minute, in the last move of the game, a speculative cross from Ribery, was turned in by the head of the substitute Giroud to send the stadium into silence and hand the advantage to France.

France tops the group on seven points, with Spain in second by virtue of head-to head. The champions travel to Panama for a friendly in November, with Deschamps' side tackling Italy ahead of the resumption of qualifying in March 2013.

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