2022 World Cup Qualifiers

France and Ukraine share honours to start 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign

Antoine Griezmann scored his 34th international goal for France to go fourth equal in the all-time scorer's list.
Antoine Griezmann scored his 34th international goal for France to go fourth equal in the all-time scorer's list. AFP

France and Ukraine played out a 1-1 draw on Wednesday night to launch their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.

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Antoine Griezmann opened the scoring in the Group D match in the 19th minute.

The Barcelona striker worked a bit of space on the right hand edge of the Ukraine penalty area and with his left foot curled the ball round the Ukraine goalkeeper George Buschan and into the right hand side of his net.

It was a classy strike to take the 30-year-old equal fourth in the country's all-time scoring lists with David Trezeguet on 34 goals. It was also no less than the hosts deserved after Olivier Giroud had twice gone close.

Ukraine, who were beaten 7-1 in a friendly at the same venue in October, barely threatened Hugo Lloris’s goal.

Warning

In the prelude to the game at the Stade de France, France coach Didier Deschamps warned that Ukraine would be a dangerous opponent.

Nevertheless the manner of their equaliser in the 57th minute was rather fortuitous.

France failed to clear their defensive lines properly and though Serhiy Sydorchuk's shot was going wide, it hit Presnel Kimpembe's thigh and trickled into the net past Lloris.

Ukraine pressed forward more menacingly after drawing level as a rattled France struggled to recover their fluency.

Chance

Deschamps sent on Paul Pogba and Ousmane Dembélé for Giroud and Kingsley Coman to add a midfield muscle and a bit of wing wizardry. 

But the changes failed to bring the second goal. "It's the first step on a long road," said Deschamps.

"We couldn't get the two-goal cushion in the first-half and we didn't have the energy in the second half."

France play their second game on Sunday against Kazakhstan while Ukraine host Finland who drew 2-2 with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the other pools on Wednesday night, Tomas Soucek scored a hat trick in the Czech Republic ’s 6-2 annihilation of Estonia in Group E and Belgium came from behind to beat Wales 3-1.

In Group G, Lille striker Burak Yilmaz also hit a hat trick in Turkey's 4-2 victory over the Netherlands.

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