Finland miss out on World Cup play-off spot after France defeat

Finland miss out on World Cup play-off spot as Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe strike to earn France victory… while Oleksandr Zinchenko helps Ukraine to victory over Bosnia to snatch second spot in Group D

  • Finland were denied a World Cup play off spot after losing to France on Tuesday
  • A second half strike from Karim Benzema saw France down the Finns in Helsinki
  • Kylian Mbappe added to the scoreline to wrap up victory for the visitors 
  • Ukraine’s win over Bosnia & Herzegovina saw them snatch second in Group D 

Finland saw their World Cup dreams dashed in Helsinki after a defeat to world champions France saw them miss out on a play-off spot for next year’s tournament in Qatar.

Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe were on target again in a sharp second-half performance as France completed their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-0 away win against their hosts.

The French attack stuttered until Benzema came on as a second-half substitute and Mbappe set him up for the opener.

A Karim Benzema strike was enough to earn France victory over Finland to wrap up Group D

The Real Madrid star came off the bench to score the opening goal of the game in Helsinki

Kylian Mbappe wrapped up victory for France with a right-footed effort with 15 minutes left

FINLAND (5-3-2): Hradecky; Uronen (Taylor, 72), Ivanov, Vaisanen, O’Shaughnessy (Pohjanpalo, 82), Hamalainen; Nissila (Valakari, 82), Schuller (Forss, 64), Kamara; Pukki, Lod

Subs not used: Arajuuri, Eriksson,  Granlund, Jensen, Joronen, Niskanen, Tenho, Toivio

Scorers: None 

Booked: Schuller

Manager: Markku Kanerva

FRANCE (3-4-1-2): Lloris; Zouma, Upamecano, Kounde (Coman, 57); Digne, Rabiot (Veretout, 87), Tchouameni, Dubois (Pavard, 46); Griezmann (Guendouzi, 67); Mbappe, Diaby (Benzema, 57)

Subs not used: Areola, Ben Yedder,  Costil, L Hernandez, T Hernandez, Kante, Lenglet

Scorers: Benzema (66), Mbappe (76)

Booked: None

Manager: Didier Deschamps

Mbappe then scored France’s second as the world champions, who had already qualified for Qatar 2022 after Saturday’s 8-0 demolition of Kazakhstan, finished Group D with 18 points from eight games.

Finland, who were hoping to secure a playoff spot, ended up third on 11 points, one behind Ukraine who beat Bosnia 2-0 away to take second place.    

‘We wanted to finish on a high and we’re happy we did it. Now we’re looking forward to the World Cup. With the team we have it’s natural to think about (winning) it,’ said Benzema.

France have now scored in their last 18 games, matching a record that dates back to 1999-2000.

Finland’s defeat to the world champions saw them miss out on a World Cup play off place

Tottenham star Hugo Lloris is forced into a save to deny Finland star Urho Nissila in Helsinki

Finland were the last team to manage a clean sheet against Les Bleus and it seemed they may repeat the feat, but Benzema’s entrance in the 57th minute signalled the end of their hopes.

Didier Deschamps had made five changes to the team who hammered Kazakhstan, with Benzema and Kingsley Coman on the bench.

The duo’s absence was clearly felt as Les Bleus struggled to create chances against a compact Finland team.

‘There was more at stake for Finland than for us tonight but we did what we had to do,’ said Didier Deschamps. ‘It was a very positive year for France, except for those fatal 10 minutes (in the last 16 of the European championship against Switzerland).’ 

France and Lyon defender Leo Dubois was forced off with an injury in the first half of the game

Manchester City star Oleksandr Zinchenko was on target for the Ukrainians as they kept their World Cup hopes alive with victory.  

Zinchenko and Artem Dovbyk scored second-half goals to secure a vital 2-0 win at Bosnia in their Group D qualifier on Tuesday that clinched a 2022 World Cup playoff berth. 

Ukraine dominated the first half, with Roman Yaremchuk twice going close while Zinchenko and Andriy Yarmolenko also missed chances before visiting goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan clawed out a Dennis Hadzikadunic header at the other end.

France and Everton star Lucas Digne shields the ball from Finland’s Jere Uronen on Tuesday 

Ukraine and Manchester City star Oleksandr Zinchenko scored the crucial goal for his country

Zinchenko broke the deadlock in the 59th minute when he tapped the ball into an empty net from three metres as a fine run and cross from the left by Viktor Tsygankov left the Manchester City player with a simple finish.

Substitute Dovbyk sealed Ukraine’s berth in the March playoffs when he raced clear from the halfway line and steered his shot from inside the area past home keeper Nikola Vasilj in the 79th minute.

The pacy Dovbyk could have had another in the dying minutes as he weaved his way past two markers and Vasilj before Adnan Kovacevic cleared his shot off the line.

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