Oct 10, 2017 at 7.45pm UK
Griezmann (27'), Giroud (33')
Sidibe (83')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Saroka (44')
Korzun (26'), Matvejchik (53'), Volodjko (87')

Live Commentary: France 2-1 Belarus - as it happened

Live Commentary: France 2-1 Belarus - as it happened
© Offside
Relive Sports Mole's live commentary of the 2018 World Cup qualifier between France and Belarus from Paris, which ended in a 2-1 home win.

France booked their spot in the finals of the 2018 World Cup courtesy of a 2-1 win over Belarus in their final Group A clash on Tuesday night.

Didier Deschamps's side entered the match one point clear of second-placed Sweden, and a narrow victory in Paris saw the Euro 2016 finalists secure their position in next summer's tournament.

Read how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of action below.

6.46pmEvening all! Sports Mole's live 2018 World Cup qualification coverage continues from Paris as France welcome Belarus in Group A. It is simple for France – a victory would see them top the section, booking their spot at next summer's tournament in the process. However, a draw or defeat would open the door second-placed Sweden to top the section. Stay tuned for what is a very important game!

6.49pmTonight will be the sixth time that France and Belarus have met in international football. France lead the head-to-head two wins to Belarus' one, while the remaining fixture finished level. That draw actually occurred in the reverse match in Group A back in September 2016. However, France recorded a 3-1 home win over Belarus during qualification for the 2014 World Cup.

6.52pmRight, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from Paris. Has France boss Didier Deschamps made any changes from the clash with Bulgaria? What about Belarus – any familiar faces? Let's run through the two teams that will start tonight's match...


FRANCE: Lloris; Sidibe, Varane, Umtiti, Digne; Coman, Tolisso, Matuidi, Lemar; Giroud, Griezmann

BELARUS: Chernik; Matvejchik, Yanushkevich, Politevich, Volodjko; Dragun, Karnitskiy, Korzun; Kovalev, Saroka, Stasevich

6.58pmFrance boss Didier Deschamps has made three changes to the team that beat Bulgaria on Saturday night. N'Golo Kante is injured, while Kylian Mbappe and Alexandre Lacazette drop to the bench, with Kingsley Coman, Olivier Giroud and Thomas Lemar coming into the XI. It looks to be a 4-4-2 formation for the home side, who keep the same back five from the clash in Bulgaria.

Olivier Giroud of France celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group A match between France and Romania at Stade de France on June 10, 2016 in Paris, France© Getty Images

7.02pmAs for Belarus, BATE Borisov midfielder Ihar Stasevich captains the visitors on his 33rd international appearance, while goalkeeper Syarhey Chernik, who plays his club football in France for Nancy, starts between the sticks. Dinamo Minsk's Anton Saroka will lead the line on just his fourth international appearance, and the 25-year-old is yet to get off the mark in terms of goals.

7.05pmSo there we have it. The two teams are in, and we are now just about 40 minutes from kickoff on this mild evening in Paris. I shall discuss Belarus a little bit later, but let's start with France. As mentioned, it is straightforward for the home side – a win would see them qualify for the World Cup, but a draw or defeat would open the door for second-placed Sweden to pounce.


7.12pmSweden actually moved to the top of Group A with an 8-0 win over Luxembourg on Saturday night, but France returned to the summit with a 1-0 victory at Bulgaria, which was earned courtesy of an early goal from Blaise Matuidi. Deschamps's side are top of the group on 20 points – one point clear of second-placed Sweden, who visit Netherlands tonight for what should be a cracking game.

7.15pmSix wins, two draws and one defeat have brought France 20 points. They have only actually scored 16 times in their nine Group A matches – conceding five times in the process. They lost 2-1 in Sweden back in June, before dropping more points at home to Luxembourg in September. As it transpired, a 4-0 win over Netherlands in August proved to be a very important result.

7.18pmIn truth, France should have no problems beating Belarus tonight. However, as mentioned, they played out a goalless draw with Luxembourg in their last home qualifier at the start of last month. There will certainly be some anxiety in the crowd if Sweden take an early lead against Netherlands.


7.25pmChampions in 1998, France reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup before losing to eventual winners Germany. They also reached the final of Euro 2016, before losing to Portugal. It has not been a straightforward qualification campaign, but France should make it, and they will be among a select number of European teams fancied to challenge for silverware.

7.28pmAs for Belarus, Igor Kriushenko's team will enter this match down in fifth position in the group on five points. They have only won one of their nine matches, drawing twice and losing six times. They have also only scored five times, and conceded 19 in the process. It has been another difficult campaign.

7.32pmBelarus actually started their qualification campaign with a goalless draw against France, but were then beaten 4-1 in Netherlands. Their only victory in the section came at home to Bulgaria back in June, and they have lost their last three – including a 3-1 home defeat to Netherlands on Saturday night.


7.38pmBelarus have never qualified for the finals of a World Cup, and it was always going to be difficult to finish first or second in a group which included France, Sweden and Netherlands. It is a big ask for the visitors to help Sweden tonight, but as mentioned, they did hold France on home soil earlier in the group.

7.42pmHere we go then - both sets of players have joined us on the pitch ahead of kickoff. Just a reminder that a win for France would see them qualify for the World Cup, but a draw or defeat could see Sweden snatch first position in Group A. Stay tuned right here for what is a key game!

0 minKICKOFF! Belarus kick things off in Paris...

2 min... it must be said that there is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium tonight. The home supporters are expecting a performance, that is for sure. You just get the feeling that France need an early goal to settle the nerves, especially after what happened at home to Luxembourg.

4 minEarly pressure from France as Griezmann swings a cross into the Belarus box, but Dragun is on hand to clear. Not a surprise that the home side are in control of the early possession here.

5 minGiroud breaks into the Belarus box, but the offside flag was raised.

7 minBelarus are doing their best to break on France when the home side lead possession, but Varane and Sidibe have both shown strong defending in the last couple of minutes. There is a nice tempo about this match as both teams look to play football in the right areas. Still goalless early on.

9 minNot an awful lot to report in terms of free-flowing football in the last few minutes, but France are still in charge of the possession. Belarus can be pleased with their start to this World Cup clash.

11 minHalf-chance for Kovalev as the number 11 drives into the France box, and his effort is not too far away from the goal. Belarus are certainly threatening on the counter-attack here.

13 minFrance are just struggling to get going at the moment as Belarus enjoy decent possession of the ball. There is no question that this team can play football as they continue to pass and move.

15 minHalf-chance for France as Digne delivers a dangerous cross into the away side's box, but Giroud's header was always moving wide of the post. That is the closest France have come so far tonight.

17 minGiroud again rises to meet a cross from Digne, but the Arsenal forward was offside. Some of the early enthusiasm from the crowd has dropped, and that is credit to the away side here.

18 minCHANCE! Super chance for France as Varane rises highest to meet a ball inside the Belarus box, and Chernik has to make an excellent save. Clearest chance of the night thus far!

21 minCROSSBAR! Belarus are rocking at the moment as France continue to force the issue. Giroud rises highest to meet a cross from Coman, but his header smashes off the crossbar!

23 minBelarus were comfortable in the early exchanges, but that is no longer the case as France continue to force the issue in the final third of the field. France have a serious height advantage whenever the ball is in the air, and Giroud is now having some joy inside the away side's penalty box.

25 minNetherlands are currently beating Sweden, meaning that France, as it stands, could lose this match and still top the group. I expect things to change, but that is the case at this moment in time.

26 minUmtiti rises to meet another corner, but his header was never troubling Chernik in the Belarus net. Still goalless with 26 minutes on the clock, but France are really pressing for the opener here.

26 minBOOKING! Korzun (Belarus) is booked for a foul on Lemar.

27 minGOAL! France 1-0 Belarus (Griezmann)

28 minFrance make the breakthrough in the 27th minute as Griezmann races onto a pass from Matuidi before finishing into the bottom corner. A clinical finish from the Atletico Madrid forward!

30 minTolisso hits one on the volley, but his effort was always rising over the crossbar. France are purring at the moment as Belarus drop deeper and deeper. It could be a long night from here.

32 minLittle under 15 minutes of the first period remaining, and France are very comfortable as they look to score a second in the latter stages of the first half. Belarus are just struggling to keep the ball.

33 minGOAL! France 2-0 Belarus (Giroud)

34 minFrance double their lead in the 33rd minute as Griezmann feeds Giroud, and the striker somehow finds the bottom corner after a deflection off Belarus' number four. It was very fortunate, but France have a second goal, and they are well on their way to completing the job tonight.

37 minHalf-chance for the visitors as Stasevich finds space outside the France box, but his effort was always straight down the throat of Lloris, who sets Griezmann away down the left.

39 minLittle over five minutes of the first period remaining, and Belarus are at least having a go. Saroka is the latest player to break into the France box, but Umtiti is across to make a really strong block.

42 minNetherlands are now leading Sweden 2-0, which places France in an even stronger position. Deschamps's side are going to qualify for the World Cup tonight, that is now pretty much certain.

44 minTolisso hits one from distance after smart work from Griezmann, but it was always a comfortable save for the away side's goalkeeper. I would be very surprised if we had seen the last of the goals tonight as both teams continue to press players forward. Belarus are also giving it a real go here.

44 minCLOSE! Saroka just misses the France crossbar with a half-volley from distance!

44 minGOAL! France 2-1 Belarus (Saroka)

45 minBelarus score! It is a super finish as well as Saroka finds the bottom corner after meeting a cross at the near post. France were warned, and the home side have conceded late in the first period.

45+1 minHALF-TIME: France 2-1 Belarus

8.32pmSo there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with France leading Belarus 2-1 at the interval of their World Cup qualifier. France led 2-0 in the 33rd minute courtesy of goals from Griezmann and Giroud, but Saroka netted for Belarus in the latter stages of the first period here.

8.37pmSTATS! France have dominated the possession with 64%, while they managed nine attempts - four of which were on target. Belarus, meanwhile, hit the target with three of their six attempts. Just the one yellow card to report, with Korzun booked for a poor challenge on Lemar in the 26th minute.

8.42pmBENCH WATCH! France boss Deschamps has a number of attacking options on his bench tonight, with the likes of Lacazette, Mbappe, Payet and Thauvin among those available for the home nation. As for Belarus, the visitors have options in the shape of Bykov, Sachivko and Evdokimov.

46 minRESTART! France resume the action here...

46 min... BELARUS SUB! Sachivko has replaced Yanushkevich at the break.

48 minQuiet start to the second period as both teams look to settle back into the match. It was Belarus that ended the first half on the front foot after that super finish from Saroka made it 2-1.

50 minHalf-chance for Belarus as Kovalev finds some space outside the France box, but his low effort was always moving wide of the post. The home side are yet to get going at the start of the second period.

52 minComan has struggled to get into the match for France tonight, while Lemar has also had problems down the other side. It is still a surprise that an in-form Anthony Martial cannot get into this squad.

53 minBOOKING! Matvejchik (Belarus) is booked for a foul tackle on Tolisso.

55 minWell, France have been very disappointing at the start of the second period. Nothing has happened since the restart, and it would not be a surprise if Deschamps was considering changes here.

57 minComan dances past a couple of challenges before looking to feed Griezmann, but the Atletico forward is well marked. Belarus clear their lines once again as the score stays 2-1 here.

60 minBelarus could have been forgiven for folding at 2-0, but the away side have been impressive since Giroud scored France's second. Not too much is happening in either final third at the moment, but Belarus are certainly threatening. Little over 30 minutes of football remaining here.

61 minFRANCE SUB! Mbappe replaces Coman in the 61st minute.

63 minHalf-chance for the visitors as Korzun finds space outside the France box, but his effort is too high.

64 minVolodjko just about manages to turn wide of his own goal after meeting a deep cross from Lemar!

64 minCHANCE! Incredible chance for Belarus to score as Karnitskiy finds Saroka unmarked inside the France box, but the striker somehow turns the ball wide of the post. What a miss!

65 minBELARUS SUB! Kovalev is replaced by Skavysh for Belarus.

67 minBelarus have nothing to lose tonight, and they are causing France all sorts of problems. I would be very surprised if we had seen the last of the goals with still 20 minutes to play in Paris.

69 minSAVE! Chernik keeps out a curling strike from Mbappe.

72 minThe home supporters are in fine voice at the moment as they look to drive their team forward. With Netherlands winning, France are actually very comfortable even if Belarus equalise, but a draw would not go down well. Still a solid 20 minutes of football to play in the French capital.

74 minSAVE! Chernik is on hand to keep out a close-range effort from Giroud.

76 minBELARUS SUB! Stasevich is replaced by Burko in the away side's final change.

77 minPenalty shout for France as Mbappe goes down inside the Belarus box under pressure from Chernik, but the referee is not interested. Brilliant call from the referee there.

79 minFRANCE SUB! France's second change sees Sissoko replace Griezmann.

79 minBULGARIA SUB! Bykov replaces Korzun for the away side.

82 minPossession football for France as we enter the final 10 minutes of this match. You still get the feeling that there is another goal in this as both teams continue to commit players forward.

83 minLemar hits one over the Belarus crossbar from distance.

83 minFRANCE SUB! Lemar is replaced by Payet for France.

84 minBOOKING! Sidibe (France) is booked for a foul on Stasevich.

86 minLittle under five minutes of football remaining in Paris, and France still lead 2-1. Les Bleus are helping for the 2018 World Cup, but Belarus have really tested the home side tonight.

87 minBOOKING! Volodjko (Belarus) is booked for handball.

90 minNot an awful lot to report at the moment as France keep possession entering the latter stages of this match. Payet has just curled one harmlessly into the arms of the away side's goalkeeper.

90+1 minWe are into the first of three additional minutes in Paris.

90+3 minBelarus are still pushing forward, but they are running out of time. It does appear that 2-1 will be how this one finishes, and Belarus can be pleased of their performance in Paris.

90+4 minCHANCE! Saroka just misses at the near post once again!

90+4 minFULL-TIME: France 2-1 Belarus

9.36pmSo there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with France beating Belarus 2-1 to book their spot at the 2018 World Cup. The French will be in Russia! Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our live coverage once again! Until next time!

Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring during the World Cup qualifier between France and the Netherlands on August 31, 2017
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