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Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-03-24

A goal and two assists from Mathieu Valbuena helped France to a 3-1 victory in their World Cup qualifier against Georgia in Paris on Friday, a win that sees them take over from Spain as Group I leaders.

Mathieu Valbuena scored a goal and created two others as France beat Georgia 3-1 to leapfrog Spain at the top of World Cup qualifying Group I on Friday ahead of next week’s clash between the two heavyweights at Stade de France.

France were clinical rather than impressive and one of the biggest roars of the evening came when the stadium announcer confirmed world champions Spain had been held 1-1 by Finland.

Georgia frustrated the hosts, and teh crowd, but their defence was breached on the stroke of halftime when Olivier Giroud headed home a neat Valbuena free kick.

Valbuena, who had scored in France’s two previous games, doubled the lead in the 47th minute with a powerful half-volley and then delivered a cross for Franck Ribery to make it 3-0.

Georgia, who had their chances in the first half, were rewarded for their efforts with 20 minutes left when Alexander Kobakhidze took advantage of a deflected cross to find the net.

France top the group with 10 points from four games, two ahead of Spain.

The only frustration for the French was Karim Benzema’s continued goal drought.

He failed to convert two chances in the first half and has now failed to score in 11 games.

Les Bleus coach Didier Deschamps had chosen to start with two strikers in Giroud and Benzema but the home side hardly troubled Georgia in the opening 30 minutes.

Giroud missed the first clear-cut chance when he was through one-on-one and Benzema also failed from good positions.

France keeper Hugo Lloris was forced to parry a powerful Kobakhidze attempt away and the crowd were becoming restless until Giroud spared his team mates getting jeered off when he opened the scoring with a header.

Valbuena’s quick goal after the break allowed Deschamps to rest some of his players ahead of the Spain clash with Valbuena just having time to set up Ribery before he and key midfielder Blaise Matuidi were taken off.

Another plus for the coach was promising debuts for for central defender Raphael Varane and midfielder Paul Pogba, both of whom stated a case for inclusion next Tuesday.


Date created : 2013-03-23

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