Latest update: 10/10/2010
France secure late victory over Romania in Euro 2012 qualifier
Les Bleus now sit at the top of Group D in the Euro 2012 qualifications after securing a late victory over Romania at the Stade de France Saturday. French substitutes Loïc Rémy (83 min) and Yoann Gourcuff (90+3 min) scored for les Bleus.
By News Wires (text)
AP - Substitutes Loic Remy and Yoann Gourcuff scored late for France to beat Romania 2-0 to move top of its group in European Championship qualifying on Saturday.
Remy latched onto a brilliant pass over the top of the defense from midfielder Alou Diarra, took one touch to cushion the ball and struck a powerful shot into the bottom left corner in the 83rd minute.
Moments after scoring his first international goal, Remy headed Florent Malouda’s cross over the crossbar with the goal gaping.
Gourcuff added the second in injury time after some superb skill from another substitute, Dimitri Payet, who made his debut.
Payet showed great touch and balance to jink inside the penalty area down the right and his perfectly cushioned pass allowed Gourcuff to thump the ball in.
The win gave France six points and put coach Laurent Blanc’s team one point ahead of Albania and Belarus in Group D.
France lost its opening qualifier 1-0 at home to Belarus and then won 2-0 away to Bosnia-Herzegovina, which has four points.
France started to show more attacking intent early in the second half.
Costel Pantilimon made a stunning one-handed save to push Mathieu Valbuena’s fiercely struck shot onto the crossbar in the 57th, and the ball was hacked away just before Karim Benzema could head it in.
Moments later, Pantilimon denied Benzema again from a tight angle and thwarted Samir Nasri as he burst into the penalty area down the left and tried to poke the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs.
Just like when it lost 1-0 at home to Belarus, France was always at the mercy of a Romania counterattack.
France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was relieved to see right back Cristian Sapunaru’s shot hit the post in the 71st after an attack down the right.
Blanc made two changes from the team that won in Bosnia, with Anthony Reveillere coming in for Bacary Sagna at right back and Nasri replacing his Arsenal teammate Abou Diaby in midfield.
Nasri was preferred to playmaker Gourcuff to play behind lone striker Benzema.
Having chosen a new captain for each of his first three games in charge since taking over from Raymond Domenech after the World Cup debacle, Blanc gave Diarra the armband for the second time after he captained the team in Bosnia.
Blanc has been desperately trying to restore national pride since the World Cup, and has even helped his players learn the words to the national anthem by handing them printed sheets. Also, for the first time at Stade de France, the words to La Marseillaise rolled down on the big screens as the crowd sang a hearty rendition of it.
France initially had trouble breaking down Romania’s solid 4-4-2 formation.
But Benzema and Nasri started to open up gaps with their neat one-two combinations and Malouda fired just wide in the 19th after running onto Nasri’s clever reverse pass.
Diarra headed over from Nasri’s cross in the 27th, right winger Valbuena turned his defender but placed his shot straight at the keeper in the 40th, and Benzema curled his effort just wide of the left post a minute later.
The French were almost punished within a minute of the restart when midfielder George Florescu’s shot was brilliantly tipped wide by Lloris.
Nasri’s cross early in the second half was met by Philippe Mexes, but his downward header was straight at Pantilimon.
Blanc replaced Valbuena with Remy with a little over 20 minutes remaining, and then replaced Nasri with Gourcuff.