World Cup roundup: 10-man France held by Bosnia-Herzegovina
France were held to a disappointing 1-1 home draw by Bosnia-Herzegovina after playing almost half the game with 10 men in a World Cup Group D qualifier on Wednesday.
Nine weeks after their shock loss to Switzerland in the last 16 of Euro 2020, the world champions had Antoine Griezmann to thank for a quick equaliser after Edin Dzeko had put the visitors ahead in the first half. Didier Deschamps’s side had Jules Koundé sent off for a rough tackle early in the second half and although they dominated possession, they had to be content with sharing the points at Strasbourg’s La Meinau stadium.
France remain unbeaten in four games and lead the group with eight points, four ahead of Ukraine who were held to a 2-2 draw in Kazakhstan earlier on Wednesday. The French next face Ukraine away on Saturday before hosting Finland next Tuesday while Bosnia, who are fourth on two points from three matches, take on Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
“It’s always more complicated when you play with 10 men. But we reorganised to be more compact to at least keep the result,” Deschamps said. “Of course, that’s not what we were looking for but World Cup qualifiers are hard for everyone. We have an extra point but we will be looking for two wins in our next two games.”
The Netherlands were forced to come from behind to draw 1-1 with Norway in Oslo, an inauspicious start as coach for the returning Louis van Gaal. Erling Haaland put the Norwegians ahead after 20 minutes but Davy Klaassen equalised 17 minutes later to earn the Dutch a share of the spoils in an untidy Group G clash at the Ullevaal Stadium.
The result left the Netherlands, who have seven points from four matches, behind Turkey in the standings. Unbeaten Turkey, held to a 2-2 draw by Montenegro, moved on to eight points while Norway are on seven but behind the Netherlands on goal difference.
Haaland netted his eighth goal in 14 internationals with typically enterprising ability, bringing down an errant clearance with his back to goal and turning to steer the ball home in the 20th minute, despite a despairing tackle from Virgil van Dijk. The Dutch equalised when Georginio Wijnaldum’s cross from the right wing was steered home by Klaassen after Norway’s defence had failed to clear.
Croatia and Russia both stayed on course to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after they fought out a 0-0 Moscow stalemate devoid of any fireworks in Group H qualifier. The result left Croatia top of the group on seven points from four games, ahead of second-placed Russia on goal difference. Slovakia are third on six points after a 1-1 home draw with fourth-placed Slovenia, who have four points.
Russia’s new coach Valeri Karpin had hoped for a more sparkling debut but his side created very little up front against a well-organised Croatian defence featuring debutant Borna Sosa on the left flank. Arsen Zakharyan, an 18-year old who became the youngest outfield player to feature for Russia, drew a fingertip save from visiting goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic with a rasping shot from the edge of the area in the 15th minute.
Ivan Perisic should have fired the Croatians ahead in the 43rd but scuffed his shot wide of the far post before Livakovic kept out an Aleksei Ionov effort early in the second half. With the pace fizzing out, the home team’s Brazilian-born goalkeeper Guilherme smothered a Luka Ivanusec shot in the 82nd minute.
Slovenia salvaged their 1-1 draw in Slovakia thanks to a Peter Stojanovic goal just before the break. Slovakia struck in the 32nd minute when Vladimir Weiss swung in a cross from the flank and Robert Bozenik headed past Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak. The home side equalised 10 minutes later following a period of sustained pressure when Peter Stojanovic controlled Josip Ilicic’s perfectly-weighted pass inside the penalty area and drove a shot into the goal.
Austria ran out 2-0 winners away to Moldova in Group F, with the kick-off delayed after a drone flew over the stadium in Chisinau. Christoph Baumgartner broke the deadlock just before the break, with Marko Arnautovic adding a second in stoppage-time to wrap things up as Austria moved level on points with Israel and two clear of Scotland.
Leaders Denmark maintained their 100% record in the group, early goals from Daniel Wass and Joakim Mæhle proving enough for a 2-0 win over Scotland.
In Group A the Republic of Ireland came within minutes of a shock victory in Portugal before a late double by Cristiano Ronaldo rescued the three points for the home side. John Egan had put Ireland in front.