Blanc hails 'turning point' after France win

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The Independent Football

France coach Laurent Blanc has told his side that last night's victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina "has to be the turning point".

Les Bleus had struggled to recover from a dispiriting World Cup campaign, losing 2-1 in Norway last month with a shadow squad - after Blanc axed all the players involved in South Africa - and then 1-0 at home to Belarus on Friday in their opening qualifier for Euro 2012.

But goals from Karim Benzema and new captain Florent Malouda earned them a 2-0 success in Sarajevo and Blanc is adamant they must push on.

"After Belarus, I told the players that they hadn't, unfortunately, made the most of the good things they did during the game," he said. "I can no longer say that.

"They were beyond reproach, not only their performance but also their spirit, and they were rewarded.

"Before the match I told them they must earn at least a point. We ended up taking two more and I am very happy.

"After our defeat at the Stade de France, I read that it was 'catastrophic'. This time, I will not read that it is fantastic, but this can be the start of something good."

The manner of his side's all-round performance delighted Blanc, and he reserved special praise for Benzema after the Real Madrid man eventually broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute, lashing home Gael Clichy's cross.

"The aim was to prevent the Bosnian midfield and attack linking up. That was one key factor, but not the only one," said Blanc.

"We also used the ball very well. In contrast to Friday, we attacked very quickly. That allowed us to create more space, which is what Karim likes.

"We know he is not yet at his best, but he is still an important player. He has the potential to score goals and in this squad, aside from him, there are not many like that. He lifted us and caused our opponents to lose confidence.

"After the goal, I sensed that our players became more confident and we concentrated on not conceding goals. It was good. It has to be the turning point."

Malouda warned that no return to the failings of the summer will be tolerated, telling L'Equipe: "We must not drop back to that level.

"We have to build on this. We are behind schedule. We must be very ambitious and set our sights on first place."

On last night's win, the Chelsea winger added: "Karim's goal lifted a weight from us and mine killed them off."

Arsenal full-back Bacary Sagna echoed his team-mate's thoughts, saying: "I hope it is the start of a good story.

"Everyone did their duty defensively and everyone tried to offer a little more going forward. It is when we play like that that we can pose problems to teams and our confidence returns."

Lille defender Adil Rami has been one of the stand-out performers amid the slow start to Blanc's new era, and he said: "We are getting better.

"We have to keep our feet on the ground, but if we continue in this spirit, we can go far."