France showed their class but failed to pile on the goals in a 1-0 win over Faroe Islands Wednesday which reinforced their bid for a place in next year’s World Cup finals.
A first-half goal from Andre-Pierre Gignac was enough to give Raymond Domenech’s side three points from a crucial qualifier which cut their deficit to group seven leaders Serbia to five points.
Serbia, who did not play on Wednesday, have played one more game than France.
There was simply no room for error for France in this match but Domenech’s side showed plenty of will and had their hosts on the back foot for the entire match.
But for a bumpy pitch that looked designed to cut France’s speed, the visitors would have put the game beyond reach of their hosts after spurning a series of missed chances from a one-sided first half.
The Faroes, who have taken their only point from a draw with Austria, were reduced to stacking defenders and midfielders behind the ball and relying on missed passes and luck to do the rest.
Chelsea’s Nicolas Anelka, Yoann Gourcuff of Bordeaux and big Toulouse striker Gignac were all lively throughout the opening period, the trio missing several chances to score.
However, it was Gignac who broke the deadlock three minutes before half-time to claim his first goal for Les Bleus.
Despite close marking he collected Florent Malouda’s low pass on the turn and struck a right-foot shot which beat Jakup Mikkelsen at his near post.
In the 52nd minute a panicking Mikkelsen was forced to slap the ball away from danger after being duped by a corner from Malouda, which first ricocheted off the post.
Malouda came agonisinly close to doubling the score only for his header, after a superb cross from Gourcuff, to climb just over the crossbar.
The Frenchman made way for Franck Ribery in the 65th minute, a substitution that is likely to have Ribery’s bosses at Bayern Munich sweating as he continues his recovery from injury.
Ribery made an almost immediate impact, lobbing the ball over the hosts’ defence for Gourcuff. Instead of shooting, he passed wide to Gignac whose shot was turned away by the foot of Mikkelsen.
France then won a free kick on the edge of the area but Ribery’s curling effort was just over the bar. Minutes before then Anelka saw his impressive header from a long Toulalan pass skirt just over the crossbar.
Anelka and Ribery were again involved as they ran rings round the hosts as the clock ticked down to the final whistle, but despite Gourcuff side-footing the ball into the net he was ruled for offside.
Faroes coach Brian Kerr then replaced Suni Olsen with Jakup Borg for the final 10 minutes but that change made little difference to the hosts, who now have one point from six matches.
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