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Giuly eases French nerves

Wednesday, 8 September 2004

[1] Ten-man France stumbled to a far from convincing away victory over the Faroe Islands in an entertaining FIFA World Cup Group 4 qualifier in Torshavn. The home side held firm for the opening half-hour but FC Barcelona forward Ludovic Giuly broke the deadlock before substitute Djibril Cissé added a second after Patrick Vieira had been sent off.

Saha problem

[2] France coach Raymond Domenech, eager to impress following his side's goalless draw against Israel in Paris, made three changes to his starting eleven, picking Benoît Pedretti, Robert Pires and Giuly in place of Jérôme Rothen, Bernard Mendy and Claude Makelele. However, he had to shuffle his pack again on nine minutes when striker Louis Saha was forced off the field with a knee injury to be replaced by Cissé.

Mighty Mikkelsen

[3] Fresh from their 6-0 away defeat at the hands of Switzerland, Faroe Islands coach Henrik Larsen opted to replace goalkeeper Jens Martin Knudsen with Jákup Mikkelsen. The 34-year-old custodian produced a fine acrobatic save from Pedretti's 25th-minute long-range drive, before Giuly gave the visitors the advantage seven minutes later.

Giuly on target

[4] Pires' low shot from the edge of the area was superbly parried by Mikkelsen but the lively Giuly was first to react, poking the ball over the line from three metres. Thierry Henry almost doubled the lead five minutes from the break but saw his downward header come back off a post.

Dogged defending

[5] The second half began with France in the ascendancy, Henry and Pires only denied by some dogged Faroese defending. The home side's occasional surges forward were met with ecstatic cheers but Julian Johnsson, Claus Bech Jorgensen and Jonhard Fredriksberg all lacked composure.

Vieira off

[6] France were reduced to ten men on 55 minutes when Vieira, booked during the first half for a late challenge on Johnsson, received a second caution from Scottish referee Craig Thomson for simulation inside the hosts' penalty area. Still the visitors pressed, with Cissé blasting just wide and Pires opting to pass when clean through against Mikkelsen.

Sealed by Cissé

[7] A second goal finally came for France with 17 minutes remaining. Pires burst through midfield, found Giuly and his accurate cross was met by Cissé, who could not miss from five metres. Johnsson headed straight at keeper Grégory Coupet in the dying moments, but in truth France never looked likely to concede.

Ludovic Giuly celebrates his goal