France vs. Georgia, 2014 World Cup qualifying: Final score 3-1, Les Bleus go top of Group I

Dennis Grombkowski

France secured a comfortable victory over Georgia to go top of Group I, with Olivier Giroud, Mathieu Valbuena and Franc Ribery all on the scoresheet.

France went top of Group I after claiming a routine victory over Georgia, a result that will put them in the driving seat for qualification after Spain's shock draw with Finland.

Franck Ribery almost opened the scoring a few minutes in after receiving a great ball from Mathieu Valbuena and embarking on a good run, but after cutting inside he saw his shot denied by the crossbar, as a relatively static Georgia defence were grateful for their luck.

A few minutes later, Karim Benzema also should have put his side in the lead, although his miss was far more embarrassing. Mathieu Valbuena was again looking bright as he found Olivier Giroud in the area, and the Arsenal striker's hold up play allowed him to set Benzema up with the easiest of chances, but he could only find Loria from a few yards out.

France almost suffered a terrible shock when the Georgian captain Amisulashvili got on the end of a speculative cross into the French area which almost caught Hugo Lloris out, but the Tottenham goalkeeper just managed to stop the ball before it crossed the line and keep the scores level.

Mathieu Valbuena was seemingly creating chances at will, but will have been frustrated as his teammates seemed to go out of the way to spurn them. An excellent ball over the top saw Giroud one-on-one, but his attempted lob was far too heavy and Georgia were once again fortunate not to be behind.

Georgia even looked like threatening themselves as France got frustrated, but with the half running out, France scored just before the break. The creator was no surprise, as the excellent Valbuena sent in a perfect delivery which Giroud got on the end of to head Les Bleus into the lead.

After half-time, France immediately took the opportunity to make it 2-0. Mathieu Valbuena turned from creator to finisher as he collected Ribery's pass to slam in a shot and double the hosts' advantage, leaving Georgia staring down the barrel of defeat. Valbuena did not end his creativity though, and was soon to set up Benzema, but in a torrid night for the Real Madrid striker, he once again fired tamely at Loria with the goal gaping.

There was still time for a third for France to seal the victory, after Franck Ribery went on a typical run ended with a fine finish after being set up with some good play from - yes, Mathieu Valbuena. The Marseille playmaker was then withdrawn to a standing ovation - in contrast to the boos that rang out after each of Benzema's terrible misses.

Georgia did manage to claim a consolation goal however, thanks to some pretty slack defending from Mamadou Sakho, who was guilty of ball-watching as he allowed Alexandre Kobakhidze to get ahead of him and beat Lloris at his near post. It was a poor goal for France to concede, although the victory never appeared in doubt. Neither side were able to force any more clear chances and the match ended with a French victory that puts them in pole position in Group I.

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