Paris: France recorded their first win over Belarus to continue their perfect start to their World Cup 2014 qualification series, coming through 3-1 at Stade de France.
After a rather sterile first half, the game took light after the break, with Etienne Capoue’s first international goal giving the hosts a deserved lead.
Christophe Jallet’s seemingly fortunate strike midway through the second period seemed to have made Didier Deschamps’ men safe, but less than four minutes later the visitors were back in the game, with Anton Putsila forcing home the rebound to Sergei Kornilenko’s saved penalty. Ten minutes from time, Franck Ribery finally secured the points with a deft finish.
Les Bleus started with real bluster and fashioned a number of early opening that might have yielded a goal. The best of these typically came from Yohan Cabaye set pieces, with Mamadou Sakho twice finding himself in the box without managing to force the ball beyond Syarhey Vyeramko.
The best moment came from Olivier Giroud, however. Positioned on the penalty spot the Arsenal striker managed to direct a fine header towards the corner of the net, yet the goalkeeper threw himself across to save well.
Belarus were largely a defensive side in the first period, but after the break immediately showed more attacking threat. Before the hosts opened the scoring, Stanislav Dragun found himself clear on goal but was brilliantly denied by Hugo Lloris and moments later could not steer a header on target.
France made their guests pay a heavy price as they broke up field swiftly to open the scoring. Ribery made a fine surge down the right and wisely selected to cut a pass back to the edge of the box, where Capoue sidefooted into the net.
Although it was clear that Belarus’ challenge was not over, Jallet’s goal was expected to sap their morale. The right-back was getting forward increasingly well, yet there was a touch of fortune about his strike as his driven cross instead clattered off the underside of the bar and into the net.
Putsila breathed life into the encounter four minutes later, winning a penalty when Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa brought him down in the box. Although Lloris saved Kornilenko’s effort, the midfielder reacted quickest to convert the loose ball.
Any nerves the hosts might have suffered late on were doused by Ribery, who finished in magnificent style after Karim Benzema’s clever work allowed him to burst clear into the box, in the process ensuring that France are the early pace setters in Group I.