France beat Finland but finish second
However, Spain’s win over Georgia guaranteed progression from Group I for the defending World Cup holders and forced France into the play-off lottery. 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.
It is necessary for Bahrainis to find a way to agree because there is no alternative to dialogue to reach an agreement on a formula that allows the coexistence and satisfaction of all parties, no matter how different their views are. Such a goal is achievable only through dialogue, the ambassador told Bahrain News Agency (BNA). The dialogue, launched on February 10, brought together representatives from a coalition of five opposition societies, a coalition of other political societies, the parliament and the government. The participants, eight from each of the non-official components and three from the government, have yet to agree on the agenda of the talks devoted to political issues. The opposition and the three other groups have often waded into disagreements, mainly over the representation at the table and the outcome of the dialogue. The opposition last month said that it was suspending its participation to ask for the release of Khalil Marzooq, an opposition figure who was arrested on charges of inciting and advocating terrorism, using his leadership position in a legally organised political society to incite crimes and being affiliated with a terrorist organisation. He will be put on trial on October 24. By virtue of the friendship between my country and the Kingdom of Bahrain, we sincerely urge all parties to find a way that satisfies of all parties, without frustrating any side, that makes it imperative for each party to make positive steps forward because they would be in the interest of the country, Ambassador Testot said. The ambassador said that relations between Bahrain and France were very good. We work every day to strengthen them to the highest levels. As you know, His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa paid a visit to France in July 2012 and had a very good meeting with President Hollande. The two heads of states decided on this occasion to deepen this relationship by establishing a high bilateral Franco-Bahraini committee whose text will be signed soon in Bahrain. This document covers all aspects of our relationships, be they political, economic, or in the field of education and higher education. Bahrain is a friendly country and France wishes to increase its presence in the Kingdom. Concerning foreign policy, I was able to witness that on several topics such as Mali, Syria, regional security and many other issues, our approaches are essentially the same, he said. Referring to the trade relations between Manama and Paris, Ambassador Testot said that France was among the top investors in Bahrain between 2000 and 2010 in the energy, infrastructure and banking sectors.
France-Finland Preview: Les Bleus hoping for unlikely first-place finish
With a three-point gap separating them from Group I leaders Spain, Didier Deschamps’ men need not only a win on Tuesday but also for Georgia to inflict a first defeat on la Roja in World Cup qualification since March 1993, in order to top the group. But even that could still not be enough for France, who also require a four-goal swing in goal difference to ensure their place at next year’s tournament in Brazil. However, although France look destined to finish second, Deschamps’ outfit will be eager to gain momentum ahead of a prospective play-off. Les Bleus hammered Australia 6-0 in a friendly on Friday and will be confident of clinching victory against a Finland side that have never before beaten them. Striker Olivier Giroud goes into the game on the back of a double against Australia, while Karim Benzema will be out to find the net again after ending a 16-month goal drought for his country in the same game. However, Finland – who have already been eliminated from World Cup contention – should provide stern opposition at the Stade de France, having tasted defeat in just two of their last 11 outings. A goal from Roman Eremenko gave Mixu Paatelainen’s men a 1-0 win against Georgia on Friday, but they will need to be more clinical in front of goal if they are to end their unsuccessful campaign on a high. Finland have scored just five goals in qualification, with midfielder Kasper Hamalainen and striker Teemu Pukki, who have scored two goals each, accounting for the majority of those strikes. Paatelainen’s side have lost twice in qualifying despite their poor record in front of goal and gained an impressive result back in March when they held Spain to a 1-1 draw. The visitors have conceded six goals in their seven qualifiers and will need to maintain their defensive strength if they are to end their wait for a win over a team that has scored 10 goals in their last two matches. Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to 25 Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to 200 Sign up to Paddy Power for 250 in free bets Sign up today with Coral and get a 50 FREE bet – no strings attached! Sign up today with BetVictor and get a 25 FREE BET! Sign up with Betway for an exclusive bet 10 get 20 free bet!
But Spain’s defeat of Georgia left Les Bleus second in Group I and destined for Monday’s play-off draw for the ties in November. Having scored ten times in their last two games compared with 11 in the previous 13, France picked up where they left off in the 6-0 thrashing of Australia on Friday. The match in Paris was eight minutes old when Ribery, running along the box from the left, launched a sudden effort which bounced in off the crossbar. The goal reflected France’s early dominance although the Finns provided a threat for Hugo Lloris on several occasions through Roman Eremenko and Alexander Ring. Finland goalkeeper Niki Maenpaa’s thigh saved the visitors five minutes before half-time as Giroud sensed his chance from close range. Maenpaa’s post was the saviour seconds later from another Giroud attempt. Teemu Puuki showed quality in the second half, shooting wide after a fine team move. However, France came back to prominence towards the end and doubled their lead when Mathieu Debuchy’s long cross was met by Giroud’s far-post header, though Toivio was credited with the final touch. Yohan Cabaye hit an upright before fellow substitute Benzema struck the third three minutes from time with a left-foot volley following Ribery’s centre. UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved. Last updated: 16/10/13 8.55CET