France back from the brink against Ukraine
Sun Nov 19
France became the first team to overturn a two-goal deficit in a FIFA World Cup play-off, denying Ukraine a place in Brazil in the process.
France will appear at their ninth successive major tournament next summer after two goals from Mamadou Sakho and one from Karim Benzema completed a memorable comeback in Paris. Yehven Khacheridi's dismissal reduced the visitors to ten men soon after half-time.
With Didier Deschamps making five changes from the side that lost 2-0 in Kiev on Friday, Les Bleus hit the ground running, and Paul Pogba rose to flash a header just over Andriy Piatov's goal from Mathieu Valbuena's corner. On 22 minutes, the Ukraine defence failed to deal with a Valbuena free-kick, and while Pyatov palmed away Franck Ribéry's shot from the edge of the box, Liverpool FC centre-back Sakho was on hand to score his first international goal from the rebound.
That ended a run of eight clean sheets for Mykhailo Fomenko's team, and though Ukraine threatened on the break, France kept pushing upfield, with Pyatov forced to save from Valbuena and Benzema having a goal disallowed. However, the Real Madrid CF man was not to be denied on 34 minutes, registering after Valbuena chested the ball in his direction.
Mathieu Debuchy blocked a powerful Andriy Yarmolenko attempt on the line with half-time approaching, yet it was not a portent of better things to come for Ukraine, with Khacheridi sent off two minutes after the restart for a second bookable offence, a foul on Ribéry. The pressure built and built thereafter until Sakho turned in Ribéry's cross to win the tie.
More about World Cup 2014
Mon Nov 20Mykhailo Fomenko: It's a shame we missed out on a direct route to the World Cup as group winners
Sun Nov 19World Cup 2014, France vs Ukraine
Wed Nov 15Didier Deschamps: Ukraine are a solid side
Wed Nov 15World Cup 2014, Ukraine vs France
More about France
Tue Nov 7Fomenko’s training camp before France
Sat Oct 21European hopefuls learn play-off fate
Thu Oct 12Yarmolenko keeps Ukraine in contention
Wed Oct 11Townsend shines as England defeat Montenegro
Mon Sep 11England hold firm in Ukraine
Sun Sep 10Poland sink San Marino to keep dream alive