France beat Albania 3–0 in their European Championship football qualifier late Friday, putting them on top of Group D and setting up a decisive clash next week with Bosnia-Herzegovina for a place in the 2012 finals.
AP - Florent Malouda opened the scoring as France beat Albania 3-0 in a 2012 European Championship qualifier on Friday to line up a decisive showdown in Group D against Bosnia-Herzegovina next week.
Malouda scored in the 11th minute at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, and Loic Remy added a second in the 38th. Substitute Anthony Reveillere put the result beyond doubt in the 66th.
France tops the group with 20 points, one more than Bosnia-Herzegovina, which beat Luxembourg 5-0 on Friday.
A draw in Tuesday’s game will be enough to qualify Laurent Blanc’s side, while a win for Bosnia-Herzegovina would send the hosts to the playoffs for a place at next year’s finals.
“We’re going to start thinking about Tuesday’s game right now," Blanc said. "We know it’s going to be decisive, we expected as much, but tonight’s game is going to give us even more confidence."
Bafetimbi Gomis missed a fine early chance for the hosts, the striker poking wide after neat interplay with Samir Nasri.
Yohan Cabaye shot over from long range but the midfielder was the provider for the opening goal as his cross was allowed to reach Malouda, who finished with the aid of a deflection.
Mathieu Debuchy, making his debut, saw an angled drive saved by Samir Ujkani before Albania finally pressed forward and Hugo Lloris saved from Gilman Lika.
Nasri shot straight at Ujkani following a free-kick and Yann M’Vila fired wide before Gomis failed to make the required connection with Malouda’s left wing cross as the pressure began to build from the home side.
France doubled its lead when Nasri advanced down the left and crossed for Remy to finish from a narrow angle.
Albania almost responded immediately when Odise Roshi let fly from long range and forced a superb diving save from Lloris at the expense of a corner.
France pair Cabaye and Patrice Evra were withdrawn due to injury, with Marvin Martin replacing the former at the interval and Evra giving way to Reveillere two minutes later.
Gomis’ control let him down when through on goal and he then could not convert an acrobatic effort from near the penalty spot.
Elis Bakaj shot over at the other end before the France substitutes combined for a third goal, Martin playing in Reveillere to finish from a narrow angle.
Albania’s Klodian Duro fired a free kick over and Younes Kaboul blocked Bakaj’s shot before Gomis’ powerful strike was well held by Ujkani.
Djibril Cisse replaced Gomis and his first contribution was a shot which Ujkani turned behind for a corner, while from another flag-kick at the other end, Lloris reacted well to prevent Cana converting.
The France keeper then saved from Hamdi Salihi and the match concluded with Cisse shooting waywardly over the bar.
France: Hugo Lloris, Mathieu Debuchy, Patrice Evra (Anthony Reveillere 46), Adil Rami, Younes Kaboul, Yohan Cabaye (Marvin Martin 47), Bafetimbi Gomis (Djibril Cisse 80), Samir Nasri, Florent Malouda, Yann M’Vil, Loic Remy.
Albania: Saimir Ujkani, Andi Lila, Kristi Vangjeli, Armend Dallku, Lorik Cana, Klodian Duro, Gilman Lika (Sabien Lilaj 81), Hamdi Salihi, Gjergj Muzaka (Ahmed Januzi 74), Jahmir Hyka (Elis Bakaj 63), Odise Roshi.
Date created : 2011-10-08