France 3-1 Austria: Benzema, Henry And Gignac Net In Les Bleus Win

Henry & Giniyak The home side rounded off their campaign with a positive home win as they look forward to their crucial play-off clash.

France prepared for the play-offs with a confident 3-1 victory over Austria in Paris this evening to round off their Group 7 qualifying campaign.

Real Madrid star Karim Benzema got the ball rolling at the Stade de France, quickly followed by a Thierry Henry penalty on the half hour mark. The visitors pulled one back through Mark Janko, but substitute Andre-Pierre Gignac produced a classy finish to add gloss to France’s win.

Raymond Domenech’s side had done the necessary work to clinch second spot behind Bosnia with a 5-0 win over the Faroes on Saturday, which ultimately provided suitable compensation for a campaign that had started so dreadfully. 

There was a friendly air in Paris given the lack of incentive for either set of players, and it led to an open match.The first half belonged to the hosts, who at times offered moments of what they are capable of, and it was no surprise when the deadlock was broken courtesy of Karim Benzema. 

The former Lyon man, who became a Galactico in the summer following his big-money switch to Spain, powered home a diving header behind a static Austrian back line to open the scoring.

Ten minutes later, it was two, and it came from the penalty spot, although the decision was a debatable one. Full-back Rod Fanni seemed to go down of his own volition, but the referee booked Christian Fuchs for a non-existent challenge. It didn’t matter a jot to Thierry Henry, who nonchalantly slotted home from twelve yards and doubled the advantage.

Austria to their credit enjoyed a better spell in the second period, and managed to pull a goal back. Substitute Erwin Hoffer struck a low drive that could only be parried by Hugo Lloris, and Mark Janko was on hand for the simplest of finishes to reduce the deficit.

That goal, however, sparked the French into action and they regained control of the match. Henry left the field, and worryingly for Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, was clutching his thigh in discomfort. His replacement, Toulouse forward Andre-Pierre Gignac, made an immediate impact on the match. 

The 23-year-old cut inside from the left wing and curled a beautiful shot into the corner of the net to rubber-stamp the win, and allow Domenech to turn his attention to the upcoming play-off encounters.

It has been far from a vintage run from the former World Cup winners, but they still have the opportunity to make things right and finally book their ticket for South Africa.


~ by footballdirecta on October 15, 2009.

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