A big day from Franck Ribery and a second-half comeback helped slide France past Belarus in Tuesday's World Cup qualifying match, 4-2.
Fox Soccer Trax reported the final score on Twitter:
EUROPE WCQ FT Belarus 2 France 4; Iceland 2 Albania 1— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) September 10, 2013
France boasted a gaudy 17-4 advantage in shots, while dominating time of possession 64 percent to 36 percent in the victory.
Despite France's victory, it wasn't all roses for the road team. Entering a hostile environment in Central Stadion in Gomel, Belarus, they weren't the ones who struck first.
Instead, Belarus moved out to an early lead with a goal from Yegor Filipenko in the 32nd minute that came as a surprise to even the home fans, as France had dominated possession for the opening 30-plus minutes.
Apparently, all France needed was some halftime adjustments to get back into the game. The 47th minute produced a penalty kick when Franck Ribery drew a foul in the box, and he wasted no time putting it away with a score in the bottom right corner.
However, Belarus showed plenty of grit by going up 2-1 with a beautiful, long-range goal from Timofei Kalachev in the 57th minute that sent Central Stadion into a frenzy.
But as any elite national team does, France quickly fought back to equalize. And again, it was Ribery who slipped into the six-yard box and put on a left-footed shot.
Then, the talent gap really showed itself when Samir Nasri put France up 3-2 just six minutes later on a shot from outside the box that crossed over to the left post and in.
France wasted no time scoring their third goal in nine minutes to put the match away for good, when Paul Pogba got inside and put away a close-range goal.
According to Associated Press writer Jerome Pugmire, Ribery said the halftime speech was a huge contributor to their big second half:
Franck Ribery says the half-time motivational team-talk made all the difference and that it came from ... Patrice Evra.— Jerome Pugmire (@jeromepugmire) September 10, 2013
Via the below link from 101 Great Goals, you can see some of the highlights from Tuesday's affair:
Highlights: Belarus 2 – France 4 http://t.co/LMc5v4RxCc— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) September 10, 2013
All in all, it was a gutsy performance from France and offered one of the most exciting World Cup qualifying matches of the afternoon. Let's take a look at the grades and more.
Franck Ribery, France: A-
It's hard to find a player more valuable to his national team than Ribery is to France, and he showed the positive side of that Tuesday.
Ribery got going in a big way in the second half by single-handedly putting two goals on the scoreboard, and it was his strong start to the half that got France going.
You'd like to see more from him in the opening 45 minutes, but he got the result, and that's all that matters.
Timofei Kalachev, Belarus: B
As the head of the Belarus offensive attack, a lot of weight goes on the shoulders of Timofei Kalachev and he did a decent job of performing Tuesday.
His second-half goal was much needed at the time for a Belarus team that looked poised to pull the upset, and despite France's late comeback, his impact on the match cannot be understated.
Things don't get much easier for Belarus, who face Spain in their next World Cup qualifying match on October 11.
Meanwhile, France are sitting comfortably near the top of the qualifying table and have a friendly date on October 11 with Australia before facing Finland in World Cup qualifying on the 15th.