Serbia 1-1 France: Les Bleus Manage Away Draw In Extremis

Henry The Serbs will feel that they should have done better.

Ten-man France fought back from a personnel and goal deficit to record a credible draw with World Cup qualification group leaders Serbia at the ‘Marakana’.

Visiting ‘keeper Hugo Lloris was sent off for a foul onNikola Zigic early on, Nenad Milijas converting the resulting penalty, but a Thierry Henry equaliser allowed the French to leave with a point.

Serbia started brightly, the impressive Gojko Kacar forcing a superb save from Lloris after just five minutes, but it was about to turn into a forgettable evening for the young ‘keeper.

A defensive mix-up between Eric Abidal and William Gallas after a poor clearance from Lloris allowed Nikola Zigic through on goal, where he was pulled down by Lloris’ ill-judged give. Referee Roberto Rosetti pointed to the spot, sent Lloris down the tunnel, and suddenly France were in trouble.

Coach Raymond Domenech brought off striker Andre-Pierre Gignac for Marseille’s Steve Mandanda, whose first task was to pick the ball out of the net after Nenad Milijas’ textbook spot-kick into the top-left corner.

Dejan Stankovic set up Kacar for a near-miss header shortly afterwards as Serbia ratcheted up the pressure, but France equalised against the run of play just after the half-hour.

Patrice Evra’s long ball down the left found Nicolas Anelka out wide, with the Chelsea man able to control and then shoot from the corner of the box. The shot was not powerful, but Vladimir Stojkovic spilled it on the bounce, allowing Thierry Henry to act as predator and strike home the equaliser.

Yoann Gourcuff could then have set up Anelka on the edge of the area, but though the forward was able to evade Ivan Obradovic, his shot flew over the bar.

After the break, Branislav Ivanovic nearly netted one of the most memorable goals of qualification as his 35-yarder skimmed the crossbar, while Anelka, Henry, and Evra almost combined to good effect at the other end in a rip-roaring start to the second period.

But from there the game slowed down, with the French beginning to visibly tire. Franck Ribery was introduced for Thierry Henry in a bid to add a bit more mobility to proceedings, but few chances were in the offing.

Indeed, the game ended with substitute Danko Lazovic being controversially sent off, and no further goals.

Despite this result the Serbs remain four points clear of Les Bleus at the summit of Group 7, and must be considered favourites for automatic qualification.


~ by footballdirecta on September 10, 2009.

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