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France escape defeat in Romania

Latest update : 2008-10-14

France return from Romania with a precious point after a 2-2 draw in a crucial Group 7 qualifier for the 2010 World Cup. Goals by Franck Ribery and Yoann Gourcuff (photo) helped France level the score after the home side raced ahead to a 2-0 lead.

The future of France coach Raymond Domenech was left hanging in the balance on Saturday after a spirited Romania took a share of the spoils in a 2-2 draw with the 1998 World Cup winners.

Florentin Petre and Dorin Goian scored a goal apiece in a dominant first half to leave the hosts with the advantage after Franck Ribery had managed to claw a goal back for 'Les Bleus' in the 36th minute.

It took until the 69th minute for France to draw level thanks to a stunning drive from Yoann Gourcuff, who chose arguably the best time to score his maiden international goal with a stunning 30-yarder.

Barcelona forward Thierry Henry and Bayern Munich striker Franck Ribery both spurned chances late in the second half, during which France appeared to find their rhythm after a conspicuously shaky first half.

But on the face of their much stronger performance, Romania were unlucky not to steal all three points.

After picking up a point each, the result will do little to boost the group hopes of either team. France and Romania both now have a paltry four points from three games.

Domenech's future as coach of the 1998 World Cup winners has been in doubt since France exited this summer's European Championships after the first round.

Calls for his head to roll gathered pace after France were stunned 3-1 by Austria in their opening World Cup qualifier, and the were maintained despite a 2-1 home defeat of Serbia.

Prior to this match the general feeling on Domenech's future as coach was unequivocal: win, or else.

But it took only five minutes, and some slack defending, for Romania to throw a spanner into the works.

Domenech must have been wondering what was going on as Petre, left on his own just outside the penalty area, went unchallenged and met a cross that he drove past France keeper Steve Mandanda.

Barely 10 minutes had passed before Goian handed the hosts a 2-0 lead after he rose beyond France defender Jean-Alain Boumsong to head a Petre corner past the beaten Mandanda.

Bayern Munich striker Ribery managed to limit the damage, firing home a perfectly-weigted shot from a pass by Yoann Gourcuff.

Domenech and his Romanian counterpart Victor Peturca made no changes for the second half, in which France appeared to finally find their feet.

Nevertheless it took until the 69th minute for Les Bleus to put themselves within sight of a win, and they did so in style.

This time Ribery turned provider for Gourcuff, who turned his marker superbly before unleashing an unbeatable dipping drive from near on 30 yards.

Date created : 2008-10-11