France are heading to the World Cup thanks to a furious 3-0 second leg that saw them turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 win over Ukraine on Tuesday. Mamadou Sakho scored twice for Les Bleus, who turned a pessimistic Stade de France into a jubilant one with a terrific performance that earned them a spot in Brazil.
Following a disappointing showing in Ukraine, which saw Les Bleus go down by two goals, the French people had just about given up hope on their team, but they were ignited just 22 minutes into Tuesday's match by Sakho. The defender was able to pounce on a rebound after Andriy Pyatov saved Franck Ribery's shot, and bundle the over the line to bring France within one goal on aggregate. After a disastrous first leg, France and their fans were starting to believe again.
From then on, France absolutely battered Ukraine, and 12 minutes after the first goal, they equalized. A deflection found Karim Benzema right in front of goal, which he knocked home to bring the series level at 2-2. Ukraine immediately protested the goal. They claimed that Benzema was offside, and replays proved them correct, but minutes earlier Benzema had a goal incorrectly disallowed for offside so all was fair.
The game came apart for Ukraine in the 47th minute, when Yevhen Khacheridi hacked down Ribery and was deservedly shown his second yellow card. With 10 men, Ukraine was doomed, and 18 minutes from the end of regulation, France finally went in front.
Once again, Sakho did the honors, this time getting on the end of a Mathieu Debucky cross and directing the ball into the back of the net from close range. Before the ball even crossed the line, the Stade de France exploded. Flags waved and a thunderous roar overtook the stadium as France completed the comeback.
From 2-0 down to 3-2 up, embattled France is now heading to the World Cup.
France: Lloris, Debuchy, Evra, Varane, Sakho, Cabaye, Matuidi, Pogba, Ribery, Valbuena, Benzema.
Goals: Sakho 22', Benzema 34', Sakho 72'.
Ukraine: Pyatov, Khacheridi, Shevchuk, Mandzioek, Rakitskiy, Yarmolenko, Konoplyanka, Rotan, Bezus, Aparesida, Zizulya.
Red cards: Khacheridi 47'.