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France On Brink Of World Cup Exit As Ukraine Win 2-0

posted 15 Nov 2013, 15:02 by Mpelembe   [ updated 15 Nov 2013, 15:02 ]

Ukraine beat France in Kiev with two late goals to take major step towards World Cup finals


Les Bleus, who last missed a major competition when they failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup finals, succumbed to Roman Zozulia's goal shortly after the hour and Andriy Yarmolenko's late penalty, four days before the return leg at the Stade de France.

France's Laurent Koscielny and the home side's Oleksandr Kucher were sent off in injury time asUkraine took a step towards securing their second World Cup appearance after reaching the quarter-finals in 2006.

France barely had a chance apart from a Samir Nasri effort and were shaken throughout by a boldUkraine side.

Didier Deschamps had opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation with Olivier Giroud up front and Karim Benzema on the bench.

The visitors tried to keep possession but Ukraine were the most dangerous side and Francegoalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who started the game 12 days after suffering a concussion, made his first block from Yarmolenko's crossed shot in the seventh minute.

Ukraine also came close on the half hour when Edmar's diving header from Ruslan Rotan's cross went wide after yet another nice move from the hosts.

FIFA Ballon d'Or hopeful Franck Ribery was closely marked as Les Bleus failed to create clearcut chances and at the back their weak spot was the left side with centre half Eric Abidal and full backPatrice Evra struggling to cope with Yarmolenko's pace.

In the 61st minute, Zozulia squeezed his shot just under Lloris from Edmar's touch to put the home side ahead.

Four minutes later, France almost hit back but Nasri, in a perfect position, shot straight at Andriy Pyatov.

Giroud, who failed to muster a chance, was substituted by Benzema 20 minutes from time.

It was Ukraine, however, who scored again when Yarmolenko converted a penalty after Koscielny had fouled Zozulia in the box.