France 3 Ukraine 0: Didier Deschamps hails Les Bleus after 'magical' comeback to qualify for World Cup 2014

Result takes Les Bleus to the World Cup in Brazil

France reached the World Cup against the odds after beating Ukraine 3-0 on Tuesday, overturning a first-leg deficit with a performance full of pride and confidence after most observers had written the team off.

Backs to the wall after a 2-0 defeat last Friday, France started at a frenetic pace and never let up against a dispirited Ukraine that played most of the second half with 10 men.

France was already leading 2-0 by then after Mamadou Sakho scored his first international goal midway through the first half and Karim Benzema added a close-range finish in the 34th.

"I've experienced some great moments but this one is special. It's fabulous, especially after the first game and the bad result we got there," France coach Didier Deschamps said. "The players should get all the credit because they did something special."

Ukraine went down to 10 men when fullback Yevhen Khacheridi was red-carded for fouling Franck Ribery in the 47th minute. France sealed qualification in the 72nd when Ukraine subsitute Oleg Gusev turned a cross into his own net under pressure from Sakho.

"We should have worked harder and been more organized," Ukraine coach Mykhailo Fomenko said. "I warned my players before the match to avoid the yellow and red cards but this was very difficult."

There were delirious scenes at the end as France players rushed off the bench to celebrate.

Bullied all night in Kiev last Friday, the French responded brilliantly in a performance full of bravery, panache and determination.

"It's the magic of football. Four days ago we were bad, very bad," Deschamps said. "Tonight the players were present and I had no doubt they would be."

The players, under intense pressure in the build-up to the game, grabbed flags and sprinted around the field in jubilation as France avoided the embarrassment of failing to qualify for a major tournament for the first time in 20 years.

"It's been a very long time since we saw the Stade de France like this," Ribery said. "We took a big slap in Ukraine and we woke up. We were stuck together until the end and we showed it on the pitch."

Olivier Giroud grabbed a microphone and got the crowd singing along to the national anthem as pent-up emotions were well and truly released.

"We've suffered so much, there's been so much sadness," Ribery said. "This is wonderful, magnificent."

In a match four years ago, 10,000 traveling Irish fans drowned out the home support. But there was no danger of that this time from Ukraine's considerably smaller following.

Pre-match footage on the stadium's big screen showed clips of glory days: the Platini years, the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Perhaps this was an attempt to jog the crowd's memory, a last-ditch plea to get them to rally behind the team. Or perhaps it was a simpler message: "This is how to win, remember?"

The words to "La Marseillaise" then popped up on the screen, offering further encouragement to show their support.

It seemed to have the desired effect as France poured forward and had Ukraine firmly on the back foot from the outset, with Mathieu Valbuena going close with a rising shot and Paul Pogba and Benzema heading over from good positions.

Piatov had kept eight consecutive clean sheets but his resistance was finally broken when Sakho pounced to turn the ball in from close range after Piatov pushed away Ribery's shot from the edge of the penalty area. The way Sakho sprinted to the bench, thumping his chest with pride, showed just how intense the strain had been on the French since Friday.

Some of the tackling was ferocious, as this time France stood up to the physical challenge after their battering in Kiev.

"I know the French team is very strong and can play at a very high level. They were playing at home and their fans were very good," Fomenko said. "I regret a few things. We weren't good psychologically. We needed to be ready and I don't think we were."

Piatov was well beaten for the second goal when Cabaye's attempted shot deflected favorably into the path of Benzema and he stroked it into the bottom corner.

Moments before halftime, Sakho stretched his leg high to poke the ball away from Roman Zozulya as he was about to shoot and, from the resulting corner, Andriy Yarmolenko's goal-bound hit Mathieu Debuchy's chest.

The French bench rose in unison when Gusev turned a cross into his own net and substitute Giroud almost made it 4-0 but his point-blank header was superbly saved.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home