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Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-09-04

The French national team have slumped to defeat in their first qualifying game for the 2012 European Championships, losing 1-0 at home to Belarus.

AP - Sergei Kislyak scored in the 86th minute as Belaurs stunned France by winning 1-0 at Stade de France in their opening qualifier for the 2012 European Championship.

With new coach Laurent Blanc taking over from Raymond Domenech, France was facing its home fans on Friday for the first time since its World Cup debacle and struggled to create chances in front of a largely supportive crowd.

They were stunned when Vyacheslav Hleb skillfully weaved his way into the right of the penalty area and pulled the ball back for Kislyak, who beat goalkeeper Hugo Lloris with a powerful shot into the top right corner.

Substitute Kevin Gameiro shot just over with the last kick as the French were jeered at the final whistle.

Blanc is already under pressure heading into Tuesday's match away to Bosnia.

After crashing out of the World Cup without winning a game, and shocking its fans and politicians by going on strike during a training session, France, badly needed a win to boost morale.

Chelsea winger Florent Malouda, who was chosen as France captain, had the ball in the net in the 63rd minute but his effort was ruled offside.

Things then went from mediocre to poor for the French.

Louis Saha's international comeback after four years out lasted about 10 minutes, limping off injured soon after coming on as a second-half substitute.

Saha, who kept clutching the back of his right knee, gestured to Blanc that he wanted to stay on but Gameiro replaced him.

Blanc had surprisingly picked Rennes midfielder Yann M'Vila over Alou Diarra, his former captain at Bordeaux. Loic Remy and Guillaume Hoarau started in attack.

In contrast to the jeers that always rang out when former coach RaymondDomenech's name was announced over the stadium loud speaker, a huge cheer rang out from the 76,000 crowd when Blanc's name was read out.

Blanc had feared the reception the players would receive following their World Cup debacle, but chants of ``Allez, Les Bleus!'' encouraged the players.

Blanc had also urged all his national players to sing the national anthem, even giving them sheets to learn the words.

They all did, with the exception of Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby, who was stern-faced as the crowd sang along loudly.

France started at a quick pace but could not maintain it as Belarus marked closely and shut down space. When Remy did manage to slip his marker in the 17th, he headed wide from Jeremy Menez's corner.

Remy then came off in the 34th after taking a knock and was replaced by Marseille's Mathieu Valbuena, who took Menez's place on the right wing as the Roma forward moved inside to partner Hoarau.

Belarus frustrated the crowd by keeping possession well in the first half, with former Arsenal midfielder Aleksandr Hleb controlling the midfield against the inexperienced pairing of M'Vila and Diaby, who were playing for the first time together.

Malouda broke free and his shot from 25 yards tested goalkeeper Yuri Zhevnov, who palmed the ball away. Valbuena then teed up Hoarau with a good chance in the 48th but, off balance, the PSG striker sent his shot well over.

Belarus should have taken the lead in the 52nd when Vitaly Rodionov shot wide of the right post.

Saha came on for Menez in the 69th and, as France began to find more space, Valbuena's shot was well saved by Zhevnov. But it was Belarus who showed the composure needed to finish off the game with a superbly worked goal.
   France: Hugo Lloris; Bakary Sagna, Adil Rami, Philippe Mexes, Gael Clichy;
Jeremy Menez (Louis Saha, 69; Kevin Gameiro, 80)), Yann M'Vila, Abou Diaby,
Florent Malouda; Loic Remy (Mathieu Valbuena, 34), Guillaume Hoarau.
   Belarus: Yuri Zhevnov; Aleksandr Kulchy, Aleksandr Martynovich, Aleksandr
Yurevich, Yan Tigorev, Sergei Omelyanchuk, Vitaly Kutuzov (Sergei Kislyak,
75), Vitaly Rodionov (Sergei Kornilenko, 85), Vyacheslav Hleb, Aleksandr
Hleb, Igor Shitov.

Date created : 2010-09-04


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