France floor Faroe Islands to book play-off place
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France rolled over the Faroe Islands 5-0 to book a place in the European play-offs for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Serbia ensured they would top Group 7 with a convincing 5-0 win over Romania.
AFP - France made sure of a place in the European play-offs for the 2010 World Cup by comfortably beating the Faroe Islands 5-0 here on Saturday evening.
The result guarantees Raymond Domenech's side a berth alongside the seven other best runners-up from the Europe zone's nine groups but their automatic qualification hopes were dashed when Serbia secured top spot in group seven by thrashing Romania, also by five goals to nil.
Andre-Pierre Gignac struck twice to reward France's first-half dominance and they went 3-0 up in the 53rd minute when William Gallas atoned for an earlier miss by heading home Thierry Henry's deflected cross at the back post.
Jakup Mikkelsen performed heroics in the visiting goal, saving well from Gignac, Nicolas Anelka, Henry and substitute Karim Benzema, before Anelka tapped home France's fourth with four minutes to play after Mikkelsen could only take the sting out of Henry's close-range effort.
Benzema made it five with a fine low strike across the goalkeeper after a jinking run, but the result from Belgrade means that there is now nothing riding on France's final game against Austria in Paris on Wednesday.
Les Bleus have struggled in front of goal recently and their pressing need for goals saw them line up in a bold 4-4-2 formation with Sidney Govou and Henry on the flanks and Anelka alongside Gignac up front.
The match was preceded by a moment's silence in memory of Toulouse fan Brice Taton, who was killed in an attack by rival fans prior to a game between his team and Partizan Belgrade in Serbia at the end of September.
The Faroe Islands stunned Lithuania by beating them 2-1 in their last outing but they remain one of Europe's weakest sides and quickly found themselves on the back foot against the 2006 World Cup finalists.
France twice struck the woodwork, through Govou and Jeremy Toulalan, before Gignac broke the deadlock in the 34th minute when his shot from Anelka's centre dribbled over the line via a deflection off Atli Gregersen, who had earlier escaped punishment after appearing to handle a shot from Gignac inside the box.
Gallas then saw a free header brush the top of the crossbar from Henry's free-kick but within seconds Gignac had doubled France's lead by finishing a strong run with a crisp strike into the bottom-left corner.