France draws 1-1 with Bosnia to qualify for Euros
France secured a spot at next year’s European Championship after
playmaker Samir Nasri converted a penalty Tuesday to salvage a 1-1
draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina in their final qualifier.
Bosnia needed a win to advance directly and striker Edin Dzeko
opened the scoring with a curling shot from the edge of the box in
the 40th minute. But Nasri was brought down inside the area and
converted the spot kick in the 78th.
France stayed top of Group D, one point ahead of Bosnia, which
will go into a playoff next month for a spot at next year’s
tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Bosnia was the more daring side in the first half while France
struggled to match its opponents’ intensity, before raising its
game after the break.
”I was shocked by our mistakes, even though Bosnia created a
lot of problems for us,” France coach Laurent Blanc said. ”When
you play with the handbrake (on), you make a lot of mistakes and
you are dominated. That’s what happened in the first half.”
”While the first half was disappointing, the second half was
heart-warming. What I liked was the players’ reaction. If they had
not reacted tonight, we would be talking about the playoffs.”
In the opening minutes Bosnia put France under pressure,
dominating possession and pressing the hosts back into their own
Lazio midfielder Senad Lulic took advantage of a shaky France
defense to win the ball inside the area after five minutes but
fired wide from 12 yards.
France threatened on a counterattack in the ninth, when Loic
Remy went clean through on goal, but a poor touch allowed
goalkeeper Kenan Hasagic to collect the ball.
France needed only a draw to qualify and consequently looked
passive on the pitch.
As Bosnia pushed hard for the opening goal, Dzeko cut inside
Adil Rami in the 18th only to shoot straight at goalkeeper Hugo
Bosnia again tested the France defense on a counterattack in the
24th. Roma playmaker Miralem Pjanic slipped a through ball to Dzeko
but the Manchester City striker missed the target from a good
But Dzeko finally gave Bosnia the lead in the 40th with a
curling shot following a quickly taken free kick.
Having gone a goal up, Bosnia allowed France to take the
initiative in the second half.
Remy cut inside to drag his shot wide in the 57th before Blanc
adopted a more offensive approach by replacing ineffective pair
Florent Malouda and Yohan Cabaye with midfielder Marvin Martin and
striker Kevin Gameiro in the 61st.
France’s best chances came from set pieces, with Stoke City
goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, a halftime replacement for the injured
Hasagic, twice preserving his team’s lead. Begovic tipped a low
free kick from Martin around the post in the 69th, before palming
the ball on to the bar following Nasri’s set-piece effort from 25
Bosnia had a chance to double the lead in the 75th but again
Dzeko failed to beat Lloris – and three minutes later France was
level. Nasri sent Begovic the wrong way from 12 yards, converting
the penalty he had won after being fouled by Bosnia captain Emir
France could have scored a second goal in the closing minutes
but Nasri had a chip saved by Begovic and Gameiro failed to find
the target from close range.
”We showed that we have a very good team,” Bosnia coach Safet
Susic said. ”We took control of the match in the first 60 minutes,
then our form dropped in the last 30.”
France: Hugo Lloris, Anthony Reveillere, Adil Rami, Eric Abidal,
Patrice Evra, Yohan Cabaye (Kevin Gameiro, 61), Yann M’Vila, Samir
Nasri, Jeremy Menez, Florent Malouda (Marvin Martin, 61), Loic Remy
(Alou Diarra, 82).
Bosnia-Herzegovina: Kenan Hasagic (Asmir Begovic, 46), Mensur
Mujdza (Darko Maletic, 61), Emir Spahic, Boris Pandza, Sasa Papac,
Elvir Rahimic, Zvjezdan Misimovic, Haris Medunjanin (Adnan
Zahirovic, 71), Miralem Pjanic, Senad Lulic, Edin Dzeko.