Internationals Recap: France Fight Back

Dean Mouhtaropoulos

France came out firing to reinvigorate their World Cup hopes, while England at least gave a better account of themselves against Germany in their one-sided rivalry than they had against Chile on Friday.

France 3, Ukraine 0

France Sakho 22', Benzema 34', Gusev 73' (og)




With Laurent Koscielny missing due to a red card, a start for Mamadou Sakho was always a solid bet, and the Liverpool man got it alongside Raphael Varane as France looked to overcome their two goal deficit and avoid an embarrassing failure to qualify for next summer's World Cup. Their qualification hopes on the line, France came out hard, pushing for an early opener. Ukraine managed to ride out the worst of the storm, but just when the visitors seemed to be edging back into the match a moment of lax defending allowed Mamadou Sakho to score his first ever international goal off a rebound following a free kick.

Shortly afterwards, Karim Benzema should have levelled the tie but the linesman wrongly signalled offside. The official quickly made up for the previous error by allowing Benzema's next effort to stand despite that the striker was stood unmoving a good metre beyond Ukraine's defensive line when the ball was played to him. Things only got worse for Ukraine in the second half when centre half Yevhen Khacheridi picked up his second yellow card of the night, sending the visitors down to ten. An Oleg Gusev own goal late in the half with Sakho putting pressure on the midfielder was the seemingly inevitable result, and it means France are heading to Brazil.

Elsewhere in UEFA qualification action, Greece eased past an overmatched Romania to book their place in Brazil, Croatia overcame a game Iceland, and Cristiano Ronaldo's second half hat trick ensured the Portuguese would advance.

England 0, Germany 1

Germany Mertersacker 39'




Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge both started despite having missed out on Friday's friendly against Chile through injury, but Liverpool fans will at least have been happy to see Glen Johnson on the bench to start the night, the right back given a rare rest from his usual starting duties. Germany, meanwhile, started a weakened side with Philipp Lahm, Mesut Ozil, and Manuel Neuer all left at home. Despite that Germany weren't taking the match overly seriously while hosts England were, it was the visitors who got on the board first when Per Mertesacker beat Chris Smalling to the ball and headed past Joe Hart late in the first half.

England had competed well for much of the half, but when Germany began to assert themselves, Roy Hodgson's side had no answer. The second half, though, saw a reinvigorated England trading runs of strong attacking play with Germany, with much of their best play going through Andros Townsend on the right. Steven Gerrard was given his break after 56 minutes, replaced by Jordan Henderson, and the sides continued to trade chances. With the match winding down and England unable to draw level, the game began to tire, and in the end the hosts end the international break with a second loss—though at least looking competitive this time around.

In the day's other European friendlies with Liverpool involvement, Simon Mignolet got the start for Belgium as they fell to Japan, and Slovakia will be disappointed to have been held to a draw by Gibraltar in their UEFA debut match. Those sticking around for Brazil v. Chile in a few hours can join us in the matchday thread, which will remain open for the nightcap.

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