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Bulgaria 0-1 France: Blaise Matuidi scores early winner

by 07/10/2017 19:57:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • France are on the brink of qualification for the World Cup after beating Bulgaria 
  • Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi scored the only goal of the game in Sofia 
  • Sweden's win over Luxembourg means Les Bleus lead group only by one point 
  • Victory over Belarus in final group game will guarantee a place at Russia 2018 

By Ben Grounds For Mailonline

Published: 16:37 EDT, 7 October 2017 | Updated: 19:57 EDT, 7 October 2017

Blaise Matuidi's third-minute strike was enough to secure another vital three points to move France back to the top of Group A with one game remaining in their quest to qualify for the World Cup.

Didier Deschamps' side took an early lead from an unlikely source, with Matuidi firing in from a tight angle after lovely link-up play between Lucas Digne and Antoine Griezmann.

With Sweden travelling next to all-but Holland and just a point behind, France can now seal their place at Russia 2018 by beating Belarus in Paris on Tuesday. 

Blaise Matuidi wheels away in celebration after firing France in front against Bulgaria
Blaise Matuidi wheels away in celebration after firing France in front against Bulgaria

Blaise Matuidi wheels away in celebration after firing France in front against Bulgaria

Matuidi celebrates his ninth international goal to give France the lead in Sofia
Matuidi celebrates his ninth international goal to give France the lead in Sofia

Matuidi celebrates his ninth international goal to give France the lead in Sofia

The Juventus midfielder finds the corner from an acute angle to give the visitors an early lead
The Juventus midfielder finds the corner from an acute angle to give the visitors an early lead

The Juventus midfielder finds the corner from an acute angle to give the visitors an early lead

Sweden must better France's result against Belarus to snatch the automatic place in Group A
Sweden must better France's result against Belarus to snatch the automatic place in Group A

Sweden must better France's result against Belarus to snatch the automatic place in Group A

MATCH FACTS 

BULGARIA (4-4-2): Iliev, Strahil Popov, Bodurov, Bozhikov, Zanev, Manolev, Slavchev, Kostadinov, Nedelev, Galabinov (Kraev 48), Delev

UNUSED SUBS: Mitrev, Chorbadzhiyski, Nedyalkov, Panov, Raynov, Malinov, Tsvetkov, Makendzhiev

BOOKED: Zanev, Slavchev, Kraev, Kostadinov   

FRANCE (4-3-3): Lloris, Sidibe, Varane, Umtiti, Digne, Tolisso, Kante (Rabiot 34), Matuidi, Griezmann, Lacazette (Payet 77), Mbappe (Giroud 84)

UNUSED SUBS: Mandanda, Jallet, Amavi, Lemar, Coman, Sissoko, Rami, Kimpembe, Areola

GOAL: Matuidi 3 

BOOKED: Giroud 

REFEREE: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz (Spain)

Les Bleus had failed to win on any of their last seven visits to Bulgaria but Blaise Matuidi's early goal proved enough for a 1-0 victory in Sofia.

Sweden had applied the pressure with an 8-0 thumping of Luxembourg, who held France to a goalless draw in their last outing, earlier in the day.

That saw the Swedes temporarily move into top spot but victory means France know that three points at home to Belarus on Tuesday will book their place in Russia.

Boss Didier Deschamps made his intentions clear by naming a front trio of Kylian Mbappe, Alexandre Lacazette and Antoine Griezmann.

Griezmann was involved in the opener after only three minutes, showing a deft touch to set up Matuidi for a fine finish from a tight angle.

In very wet conditions, the visitors looked determined to put the game out of sight.

Mbappe forced a save from Plamen Iliev at his near post before Griezmann sent an acrobatic volley just wide. 

The travelling supporters get behind their country during the national anthem in Sofia
The travelling supporters get behind their country during the national anthem in Sofia

The travelling supporters get behind their country during the national anthem in Sofia

Matuidi (not pictured) sees his ball hit the back of the net as France made the perfect start
Matuidi (not pictured) sees his ball hit the back of the net as France made the perfect start

Matuidi (not pictured) sees his ball hit the back of the net as France made the perfect start

Matuidi completed a sweeping move - click here for more from our brilliant Match Zone
Matuidi completed a sweeping move - click here for more from our brilliant Match Zone

Matuidi completed a sweeping move - click here for more from our brilliant Match Zone

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante holds the back of his hamstring as he is forced off
Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante holds the back of his hamstring as he is forced off

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante holds the back of his hamstring as he is forced off

Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe is tackled by Bulgaria's defender Petar Zanev
Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe is tackled by Bulgaria's defender Petar Zanev

Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe is tackled by Bulgaria's defender Petar Zanev

REMAINING FIXTURES 

Tuesday 10 October

France vs Belarus

Holland vs Sweden

Luxembourg vs Bulgaria 

The front trio then teamed up to create a great opening for Lacazette in the 29th minute but Vasil Bozhikov denied what appeared a certain goal with a brilliant late tackle.

France were forced into a change when Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante tweaked a hamstring and was replaced by Adrien Rabiot of Paris St Germain.

Bulgaria had been non-existent as an attacking force but almost equalised in the 37th minute.

Todor Nedelev's shot did not appear too troublesome but Hugo Lloris could not hold it in the slippery conditions and the ball was lifted up to Georgi Kostadinov, whose header was brilliantly kept out by the French keeper as he threw himself across the goal.

The half ended with Mbappe shooting just wide but the impetus went out of France in the second half and they began to look lacklustre.

However, they never appeared in serious danger of conceding an equaliser and comfortably held on for three vital points.

The result means France clinched their first victory in Bulgaria for 85 years to move back to the top of Group A in the race to qualify for next year's World Cup finals. 

Lucas Digne gets on the ball and he provided the cross which led to Matuidi's fine opener
Lucas Digne gets on the ball and he provided the cross which led to Matuidi's fine opener

Lucas Digne gets on the ball and he provided the cross which led to Matuidi's fine opener

Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette was selected up front by Didier Deschamps in Bulgaria
Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette was selected up front by Didier Deschamps in Bulgaria

Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette was selected up front by Didier Deschamps in Bulgaria

Deschamps calls on his players to retain possession during a rain-soaked contest in Sofia
Deschamps calls on his players to retain possession during a rain-soaked contest in Sofia

Deschamps calls on his players to retain possession during a rain-soaked contest in Sofia

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