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Euro WCQ Play-off: France facing the abyss after Ukraine disaster

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Trouble in the French camp is as commonplace as danger in the jungle and Didier Deschamps is now facing the prospect of being the first manager not to take France to a World Cup in two decades. Les Blues’ waterloo moment came in the cold of Kiev where they succumbed to two late goals, a penalty and Laurent Koscielny’s sending off.

France rarely threatened their opponents from open play, depending on Fran Ribery’s set-pieces to break past the frugal Ukraine defence. The first blow arrived just after the hour mark when Roman Zozulya capped off a great team move with a patient finish from close range. The striker waited for his marker and Hugo Lloris to go to the ground before picking a spot in the bottom corner.

Then with nine minutes remaining, Koscielny’s schoolboy tackle from behind on Zozulya earned the home side a penalty which Adriy Yarmolenko then duly dispatched to double Ukraine’s lead. In a fractious end to the game, the Arsenal defender also saw red for a kerfuffle with Olexander Kucher, who was then sent off five minutes into added time for a second yellow. The 2nd leg on Tuesday will now require France to perform miracles if they are to catch a flight to Rio next year.


Ukraine: Pyatov (Gk), Khacheridi, Kucher, Shechuk, Fedetskyy, Stepanenko, Yarmolenko, Konoplyanka (Gusev 90+2’), Rotan, Apareside (Bezus 76’), Zozulya (Seleznyov 86’)

France: Lloris (Gk), Debuchy, Koscielny, Abidal, Evra, Ribery, Matuidi, Pogba, Nasri (Valbuena 80’), Remy (Sissoko 62’), Giroud (Benzema 70’)

Final Score: Ukraine 2-0 France (Zozulya 61’, Yarmolenko (PEN) 82’)