Hugo's howler sinks Les Bleus in Sweden

Les Bleus
09/06/2017

By S. Willis

France missed the chance to take a commanding lead in World Cup 2018 qualifying Group A as captain and 'keeper Hugo Lloris made a terrible error to concede a 2-1 defeat to Sweden in the final seconds in Stockholm.

Friday, June 9, 2017

World Cup 2018 qualifying, Group A - Matchday 6

Friends Arena, Solna

 Sweden 2 - 1 France 

THE MATCH

With just a few seconds remaining on the clock, the Tottenham 'keeper sent a poor clearance straight to the razor-sharp Ola Toivonen who, seeing Lloris off his line, shot first time from distance (90'+4) to clinch the latest of last-gasp wins for Sweden after the scores had been locked at 1-1 for the vast majority of the second half.

A win would have seen France go six points clear atop the table and become almost unbackable favourites to top Group A. A draw would have seen them maintain a three-point buffer over nearest rivals Sweden. Now, however, following Hugo Lloris' astounding error, France find themselves in second place with four matches left to play.

Giroud screamer

It could have gone very differently had Didier Deschamps' men managed to push on after Olivier Giroud had conjured a superb opener minutes before half-time. Raphaël Varane got his head to Dimitri Payet's cross and it fell for Giroud in an unfamiliar position on the left-hand side of the area.

The big man looked anything but uncomfortable, however, as he took a touch and then volleyed the ball across the face of goal and in at the far post, much to the amazement of all involved but of course mainly Sweden 'keeper Robin Olsen (37').

Durmaz hits back

However, minutes later, Sweden were back on level terms as Toulouse's Jimmy Durmaz made the most of teammate Emil Forsberg's failing to get to a low cross in front of goal. France left-back Benjamin Mendy had left the speedy winger unmarked and Dimitri Payet was just half a yard short of preventing Durmaz from whipping a low curler into the bottom corner (43').

Deschamps rang the changes on 75 minutes, bringing Monaco young guns Kylian Mbappé and Thomas Lemar on for the under-performing Antoine Griezmann and Payet. France were the more dangerous side as the minutes ticked down, but things looked headed for a 1-1 draw until Lloris scuffed his clearance and allowed Toulouse's Toivonen to pinch the win.

THE PLAYER: Olivier Giroud

Despite the negative result, Giroud managed to keep his scoring run with Les Bleus alive, stretching it to an impressive 17 goals in his last 17 appearances for his country. He now has 27 goals in total for his country, level with Karim Benzema and just three shy of legend Jean-Pierre Papin.

What's more, his deft touch and the in-swinging volley that sent the ball in at the far post showed that the powerful centre-forward has more strings to his bow than many might have suspected.

THE STAT: 38

The last time France won a match in Sweden in official competition dates all the way back to 1979, when Les Bleus conjured a 3-1 victory in a Euro 1980 qualifier. Giroud's superb goal could have broken the trend had a pair of Swedes - Jimmy Durmaz and Ola Toivonen, who ply their trade at Ligue 1 club Toulouse - not decided otherwise.   

 

>> FIXTURES/RESULTS: Les Bleus








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