France started the final round of qualifiers three points behind Spain and needing both results to go their way as well as a swing in goal difference if they were to claim the automatic spot. The hosts signalled their attacking intentions from the outset, Laurent Koscielny and Paul Pogba both having efforts before France went ahead in the eighth minute with a stunning strike from Ribery. The Bayern Munich winger unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top right-hand corner of the goal from 25 yards giving Finland goalkeeper Niki Maenpaa no chance at all. Perparim Hetemaj shot wide for the visitors but Olivier Giroud headed over and Mathieu Debuchy fired wide while Maenpaa did well to parry Mathieu Valbuena’s header as France attacked. However, Finland weathered the storm and almost equalised when Kasper Hamalainen’s shot from the centre of the area was only saved by the feet of France keeper Hugo Lloris. The visitors then forced a corner which was taken by Roman Eremenko and although Debuchy cleared, Alexander Ring pounced to fire a superb right-footed volley narrowly over the bar from 20 yards. ROAD LESS TAKEN Check out all the best action shots from FIFA’s World Cup qualifying. Valbuena curled a shot over the bar and shortly after was denied by Maenpaa after he had been found by Ribery. France came within inches of doubling their lead in first-half injury time when Samir Nasri’s 25-yard effort hit the post which proved to be the last meaningful action before the interval. Debuchy’s volley was parried by Maenpaa minutes after the re-start before the Newcastle defender’s long-range effort was comfortably gathered by the goalkeeper. Roman Eremenko’s shot was easily saved by Lloris with both teams firing in from distance. The game had fallen a little flat and with Spain getting a second goal over Georgia, there was little France could realistically do to affect their situation. Giroud fired over from distance before Valbuena’s corner found Koscielny at the far post only for the Arsenal defender to head over the bar.
Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) approved the 300 million-euro ($408 million) share issue along with Alitalia’s other investors during a meeting that lasted until the early hours of Tuesday. But it is not obliged to participate in the cash call, and has always said it would attach strict conditions before giving any help. Analysts suggest Air France-KLM is dragging its feet in order to secure stricter restructuring concessions from the Italian government and other shareholders. The cash call, part of a wider bailout, is seen as only a stop-gap solution before talks on a possible tie-up between Alitalia and Air France-KLM. Massimo Sarmi, the head of Italy’s post office, which has agreed to commit 75 million euros to the capital increase, was flying to Paris to discuss matters with Air France, a second source told Reuters. An Air France-KLM spokesman declined to comment. Alitalia came close to being grounded last weekend after its major creditor Eni (ENI.MI) threatened to cut off fuel supplies. Rome has patched together an emergency 500 million-euro fund, persuading the state-owned post office to take part and banks Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI) and Unicredit (CRDI.MI) to provide guarantees of up to 100 million euros. A broader consortium of banks would put up 200 million in existing and new loans. Intesa, which is also an Alitalia shareholder, said in a statement it would subscribe to its quota of the cash call, or 26 million euros, on top of the bank guarantee of up to 50 million euros. But Alitalia still needs to find about 100 million euros more from its shareholders, who have 30 days to decide whether to sign up.
France in demand again as Central Africa crisis deepens
Headquarters in New York September 26, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid By John Irish BANGUI | Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:40pm BST BANGUI (Reuters) – France, whose troops this year halted an Islamist assault towards Mali’s capital, is now in demand from another of its former African colonies. “Let’s make up with the mother that feeds us! President Hollande we want your help!” read one banner as cheering locals welcomed France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, to Central African Republic at the weekend. Plunged into chaos since mostly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in the mostly Christian country in March, the nation is facing sectarian violence, malnutrition and a near total collapse of state rule. Fearing their plight has been eclipsed internationally by conflicts in Syria and Mali, some see France as their best hope. “We’ve seen coups before, but nothing like this,” said local Bangui journalist Steve Niko. “In Mali the population suffered in one area, but here we’re suffering everywhere. It’s like our crisis has been forgotten.” The landlocked nation is rich with minerals ranging from uranium to diamonds. But decades of instability and official corruption have meant those potential riches have been little exploited and have far less been of help to the population. As violence including murder and rape drives more than 440,000 people from their homes, there are just seven surgeons in a country of 4.6 million people to deal with bullet and machete injuries and one in 10 children die at birth.