MOTD- France 0-1 Spain

Spain have gotten a 1-0 win over France at the Stade De France after Les Blues did a good job of holding them off in the first half. Surprisingly, France stared the match dominantly, and Mathieu Valbuena shot just over the bar from the edge of the box in the opening seconds of the match. Spain started to settle into the match, and really should have gone ahead in the sixth minute when Nacho Monreal (the only non-Real Madrid or Barcelona player on the Spain line-up) galloped down the left flank and squad the ball to Xavi in the center of the box. Xavi looked certain to score, but smashed a shot just over the bar to give France a lucky break. La Roja started to control the match, and settled into their normal tiki-taka style of play. Xavi got another chance to score in the fifteenth minute when Xabi Alonso slipped him the ball on the edge of the box, and the Barcelona midfielder turned with the ball. Xavi hit a shot that bounced inches wide of the post, with France starting to sit back and defend.

In the thirty-first minute Spain almost opened the scoring when Andreas Iniesta chipped the ball above the France defense to Pedro, and the winger was brought down by an oncoming France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, but amazingly referee Viktor Kassai did not award a penalty. Towards the end of the half France started to pressure the Spain goal, but Spain still held the majority of possession. Les Blues did get one golden chance before the end of the half, and when Mathieu Valbuena hit a inch-perfect lofted ball to Franck Ribéry, the forward was put in on goal. Ribery took the ball into the box and shot the ball through Spain goalkeeper Victor Valdes’s legs, but the ball hit the underside of Valdes’s legs and bounced wide. Despite putting more pressure on Spain La Roja did not concede, and the first half ended 0-0.

The second half started out more open than in the first, and Andreas Iniesta almost put La Roja in front in the fifty-fourth minute. Iniesta volleyed the ball from the edge of the eighteen, and Lloris just managed to get a fingertip on the dipping shot and tip it over the bar. Spain finally managed to open the scoring in the fifty-eighth minute when Monreal got past Christophe Jallet on the left flank. Monreal drove into the box and crossed the ball through Raphael Varane legs. The ball reached Pedro two yards out from goal, and the winger volleyed the ball at goal. Lloris somehow managed to get a hand on it, but the ball was still headed on goal. The ball was just about to float over the line, and Lloris tried to punch it wide, but ended up punching it back into his own net to put Spain 1-0 up.

France almost got an equalize off a corner in the seventy-fourth minute when everybody missed the ball. It fell to Varane two yards out, and the Real Madrid defender volleyed the ball inches wide. Paul Pogba got a yellow card for kneeing Xabi Alonso in the head seconds after Varane missed, with Spain needing to hold on to the win to claim the top spot in Group I. Under a minute later Pogba challenged Xavi to the ball, but arrived late and was shown another yellow card, and was sent off. Amazingly, France looked more dangerous with ten men than eleven. Les Blues almost got an equalizer in the eighty-second minute when Ribery hit a shot from the edge of the box that curled just wide of the near post. Valdes was forced into some late heroics when Patrice Evra latched on to a Valbuena free-kick, and Valdes brilliantly palmed it away. In the final seconds of the match Jallet was brought off for Oliver Giroud, but the Arsenal forward could not score a dramatic equalizer. After three minutes of injury-time the match ended 1-0, with Spain climbing into first place of World Cup qualifying- Uefa Group I.
Man of the Match: Xavi


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