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

half.

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

Lloris.

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

position.

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

yards.

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

Spahic.

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.”

Lineups:

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.