Ukraine stuns France in WCQ first leg

BY foxsports • November 15, 2013

Ukraine stunned France with two second-half goals on Friday to win the first leg of their World Cup playoff 2-0 and put the heavily favored visitors in real danger of missing the tournament.

Roman Zozulya patiently took his time in the 61st before placing a shot past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris' grasping fingertips, and Andriy Yarmolenko added the second from a penalty in the 82nd.

Both teams were reduced to 10 men in injury time as Laurent Koscielny and Oleksandr Kucher were sent off.

''We took a hit today. This was a bad result, but there's a second match and we shall see what happens in that one,'' France coach Didier Deschamps said. ''We didn't come to play for a draw or just defend.''

France, which hasn't missed a major tournament since 1994, frequently tried to attack down the left wing through Franck Ribery and Samir Nasri, but couldn't find the final touch going forward. The best attempt came in the 36th when Nasri broke into the area and layed the ball off to Ribery, but he tapped his effort straight at Andriy Piatov.

Samir Nasri struck a bouncing volley that was saved 20 minutes into the second half, and Piatov had to dive to the far post to save Moussa Sissoko's shot. Franck Ribery's effort in the 77th that met another diving save from Piatov.

France enjoyed nearly 60 percent possession, but Ukraine had the best scoring chances.

Yarmolenko tested Lloris in the seventh but the goalkeeper was perfectly positioned. Yarmolenko's cross in the 25th then sailed over two teammates in the area.

Yevhen Konoplyanka presented a frequent danger down the left side for Ukraine, but his two attempts five minutes apart in the second half missed their mark.

Koscielny had a bad day as he fouled Zozulya in the box to set up the penalty for the second goal, and the defender was then sent for hitting Kucher in the face in injury time. Kucher was given a second booking two minutes later.

''The match wasn't easy. When the score was 2-0, emotions got in the way, not all the players were doing what they were supposed to do and conceded a few fouls,'' Ukraine coach Mykhailo Fomenko said. ''Now with Oleksandr Kucher and Artem Fedetsky missing the next match, we will have to look at our reserves and choose.''

France hosts the second leg on Tuesday.

''Ukraine played aggressively today,'' Deschamps said. ''The first half was balanced, as was the second half more or less, but Ukraine opened the scoring and that changed the dynamic. This proves Ukraine isn't a weak team, now they have the advantage.''