Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine

Attendance: 67732

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  • Roman Zozulya 61'
  • Andriy Yarmolenko 82' PEN

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Ukraine v France: Preview

Karim Benzema has confidently declared France ``will qualify'' for next summer's World Cup as Les Bleus prepare to face Ukraine in the first leg of their play-off in Kiev on Friday night.

Didier Deschamps' men have been forced down the play-off route after failing to get the better of Spain in their qualification group, although the form they showed in finishing second to the reigning world champions was nevertheless impressive.

One final hurdle stands in the way of France and a fifth successive appearance at the finals, and on paper it is a tough one with Mikhail Fomenko's Ukraine coming into the tie on the back of an 11-game unbeaten run.

Real Madrid striker Benzema, however, has no doubt what the final outcome will be after the return leg at the Stade de France next Tuesday.

``We will give everything in these two games,'' Benzema said.

``We will qualify, I am sure.

``There is no choice. At the end, there is the ticket to the World Cup in Brazil - the most beautiful. A World Cup in the land of football.''

Although they will be 1,200 miles from home when they step out at Kiev's Olimpiyskiy Stadium on Friday, France's players will enjoy the backing of 2,000 travelling fans - and midfielder Rio Mavuba believes they will play a big part over the two legs.

``There is a relationship that is developing between us and our fans,'' said Mavuba, who says the national side has moved on from the internal strife that struck at the 2010 World Cup and infuriated so many supporters.

``They're behind their team now, and that's great because we'll really need them for these two matches.''

For his part, Deschamps will just hope that he is not in line for any more play-off pain after being part of the squad that lost to Bulgaria at this same stage in 1993.

``It may have been 20 years ago but it still sticks in my mind,'' Deschamps told reporters. ``I don't want to experience that again.

``We're playing two games in five days with no points at stake. Our goal is crystal clear - to qualify for the World Cup.''

Ukraine, who finished second to England in their qualification group, also have plenty of recent play-off heartache to push from their minds heading into Friday night's first leg.

Ukraine were defeated in the play-offs for the 1998, 2002 and 2010 World Cups, and will be fearing a repeat this time around after being handed arguably the toughest assignment of anyone in the eight-team play-off round.

Striker Marko Devic is under no illusions about the scale of the task ahead, and told ``I truly believe in our team, but I'm realistic and I think that France are favourites.

``We're not heading into the unknown; we know exactly what we'll be up against: one of the best teams in the world.''


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