France held to goalless draw by Belarus in World Cup qualifier

Foot France Bielorussie

Foot France Bielorussie

France got their World Cup qualifying campaign off to a poor start as they were held to a goalless draw in Belarus in Group A on Tuesday.

France, runners-up at this year’s European Championship, dominated the match but could find no way through with Olivier Giroud wasting their best opportunities.

Giroud pulled an effort wide when through on goal early in the second half and rattled the crossbar with a header.

Paul Pogba, the world’s most expensive player, started for the visitors in Borisov, but coach Didier Deschamps made six changes compared to the side that lost the European Championship final, leaving Dimitri Payet on the bench.

With Les Bleus lacking attacking inspiration, though, Payet came on for Anthony Martial just before the hour mark and moments later his corner was headed against the bar by Giroud.

Antoine Griezmann then met a low ball in to the near post by Moussa Sissoko but was thwarted by Andrei Gorbunov.

The Belarus goalkeeper came up with another decisive intervention in the 73rd minute, saving a Layvin Kurzawa header from a Payet free-kick, with Manchester United’s Pogba just unable to get to the follow-up.

France have had problems against Belarus in the recent past, including taking just one point against the former Soviet Republic in Euro 2012 qualifying.

In the group’s other games, Sweden and the Netherlands drew 0-0 while Bulgaria came out on top 4-3 in a seven-goal thriller against Luxembourg.

In the group’s other games, Sweden and the Netherlands drew 0-0 while Bulgaria came out on top 4-3 in a seven-goal thriller against Luxembourg.