France beats Ukraine 4-1 Ukraine in friendly

Marvin Martin celebrated his international debut by scoring

twice Monday to help France rout Ukraine 4-1 in a friendly.

An experimental French side, which featured only one starter

from last Friday’s 1-1 European Championship qualifying draw

against Belarus, scored three goals in the last four minutes to

give the visitors a flattering, though much-needed victory.

Martin came off the bench in the 76th minute and broke a 1-1

deadlock by skipping past two defenders before beating Ukraine

goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov with a 25-yard (meter) shot into the

bottom left corner three minutes from time.

The 23-year old Sochaux playmaker then took the corner that set

up unmarked defender Younes Kaboul for the third goal with a

point-blank header. Martin completed his extraordinary debut in

injury time with a neat chip over Pyatov into the top left

corner.

”I came on to the pitch with no pressure,” Martin said, ”and

that’s what made the difference. I took my chance and found the

net. I’m very happy. But I must keep going and the team must keep

going.”

The game was a far more balanced affair than the score

suggested, with the visitors only kicking into gear after France

coach Laurent Blanc introduced Florent Malouda, Frank Ribery and

Karim Benzema 25 minutes from time.

Bayern Munich midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk opened the scoring

for the hosts in the 54th minute, with a speculative long-range

drive whose swerving flight deceived Steve Mandanda in the French

goal.

Kevin Gameiro equalized in the 58th minute with his first goal

for the national team, capitalizing on a ricochet off defender

Mykola Ishchenko to fire home a half-volley with the outside of his

right boot from the edge of the area. The Lorient striker had

wasted a good opportunity to equalize just three minutes earlier by

shooting straight at Pyatov from 12 yards.

”We’ve put out some fresh blood, we’ve put out players who

celebrated their first caps in the best way,” Blanc said. ”It

shows that nothing can be taken for granted and that nobody is

guaranteed anything in this team because there are some people in

the waiting line who want to shake things up.”

Blanc issued a clear warning to some of the more experienced

players, who often shine with their clubs but keep performing

poorly with the France team.

”When a squad doesn’t not change, it stops progressing,” Blanc

said. ”Maybe there are some players who thought that they just had

to come back in the France squad to be starters. But when you look

at this match, you can see that some players will contend (for

starting spots) next season.”

Blanc, who watched a tired side labor to a dismal draw in Minsk

on Friday, retained only Paris St. Germain defender Mamadou Sakho

in Monday’s starting lineup. Manchester United defender Patrice

Evra was the only experienced starter, but even he was unable to

stir the team into any kind of life in a dour first half.

Neither team seeming capable of stringing together a move of

even modest imagination as poor passes rolled off the field and

predictable interplay from both sides was easily broken up.

Marko Devic, perhaps the only bright spot, had a left-footed

volley blocked in the 35th minute. Soon after the Belgrade-born

winger tried to weave into the box but was too ambitious with

stepovers and lost control.

Four minutes before the break, Oleg Gusev burst through from

midfield and sent a shot just wide from 25 yards (meters).

After Tymoshchuk’s opener humiliated Mandanda, Gameiro almost

replied instantly on a counterattack, but the 24-year-old striker

shot straight at Pyatov.

Devic struck a volley straight at Mandanda on the hour mark as

Ukraine searched for a second. But France pressed forward, aided by

the fresh trio of forwards.

Benzema carved two chances out of nothing in the 83rd minute,

skying his first effort and smashing the second straight at the

onrushing Pyatov. Ukraine withstood a few minutes of intense

pressure before folding at the death.

Ukraine, which hosts the European Championship together with

Poland next year, beat Uzbekistan 2-0 in their last friendly on

Wednesday.

Lineups:

Ukraine: Andriy Pyatov; Vasyl Kobin, Oleksandr Kucher (Yevgen

Khacheridi, 33), Mykola Ischenko, Vyacheslav Shevchuk, Sergiy

Nazarenko (Denys Kozhanov, 61), Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Ruslan Rotan,

Andriy Voronin (Artem Milevskiy, 60), Marko Devic (Yevgen Seleznov,

69), Oleg Gusev (Igor Khudobyak, 74).

France: Steve Mandanda; Anthony Reveillere, Younes Kaboul,

Mamadou Sakho (Eric Abidal, 76), Patrice Evra, Yann M’Vila, Blaise

Matuidi (Abou Diaby, 76), Yohan Cabaye (Marvin Martin, 76), Loic

Remy (Franck Ribery, 64), Kevin Gameiro (Karim Benzema, 64), Jeremy

Menez (Florent Malouda, 64).