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France crush Belarus 3-1 in World Cup qualifiers

Associated Press
Sep 12, 2012 at 08:45am IST

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Saint-Denis: Franck Ribery scored a well-taken goal and helped create the other two as France beat Belarus 3-1 in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

Midfielder Etienne Capoue and right back Christophe Jallet earned their first international goals as France followed up Friday's 1-0 win in Finland with an encouraging performance ahead of next month's crucial match away to European and World Cup champion Spain.

After Anton Putilo pulled a goal back to give Belarus hope, Ribery charged forward down the left, collected a deft pass inside from Karim Benzema, and coolly clipped the ball over goalkeeper Sergei Veremko in the 80th minute.

France crush Belarus 3-1 in World Cup qualifiers

Belarus, which had beaten France 1-0 two years ago in a Euro 2012 qualifier, hardly ventured forward and got its first corner in the 32nd.

Although France's strikers failed to score for the sixth consecutive match, the partnership of Benzema and Olivier Giroud looked promising and Giroud went close in the first half.

"It was important for us to win tonight," Ribery said. "I was happy to score the third goal, but the whole team played well."

Belarus looked nervous early on, twice hacking the ball away from danger, but France was wasteful until Capoue settled nerves with a cool finish in the 49th, and Jallet looked just as surprised as his teammates when his intended cross from the right looped in off the post in the 68th.

But with France in control, center half Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa carelessly gave a penalty away just minutes later.

Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris did well to save Sergei Kornilenko's firmly struck spot-kick. Putilo followed up to bury the rebound, even though Lloris almost kept that one out, too.

Giroud's presence was a major headache for the Belarus defense, and he almost got on the end of Ribery's cross from the right in the 27th after earlier forcing Veremko into a fine save with a powerful glancing header.

Belarus, which had beaten France 1-0 two years ago in a Euro 2012 qualifier, hardly ventured forward and got its first corner in the 32nd.

Benzema's deflected free kick was close in the 37th and Mamadou Sakho should have done better from the resulting corner when he headed straight at Veremko from close range.

Although the Stade de France crowd did its best to get behind the players, there were some jeers at halftime.

Belarus almost stunned France straight after the break when Stanislav Dragan cut inside Jallet and hit a firm shot that forced Lloris into a superb one-handed save. From the corner, Dragan headed wide with the goal at his mercy.

France then took command.

Ribery finally made his perseverance count as France charged up the other end, and after some sloppy defending, he was given time to pick out Capoue, who slotted the ball into the bottom left corner.

Ribery was also involved in the second goal, when his astute pass picked out Jallet as he sprinted forward. Jallet's cross was intended for Benzema but he hit it so strongly that it went over Veremko's head and in.

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