Coach Raymond Domenech was satisfied his depleted France side had "done its job" in overcoming Ukraine 2-0 on Saturday to move to the top of Group B.
In front of Nicolas Sarkozy, who was attending his first match since being elected as president of France, goals from Franck Ribéry and Nicolas Anelka secured Les Bleus their fifth win in six UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifiers. With captain Patrick Vieira and defender Willy Sagnol joining strikers Thierry Henry and Louis Saha on the sideleines due to injury, Domenech was pleased to get a winning performance out of his weakened side.
The coach tested a number of players in a 1-0 friendly win against Austria at the Stade de France in the winter, Samir Nasri setting up fellow 19-year-old debutant Karim Benzema for the only goal of the game. Nasri started the game against Ukraine in the No10 role made famous by his predecessor Zinédine Zidane but was not entirely satisfied with his display.
"Of course it's good to take the points but I'm not entirely impressed with what I did," said Nasri, who received warm applause from the 80,000 crowd after he was replaced by the 22-year-old Lassana Diarra late on. "The other players and the coach were very kind with us young players and are teaching us how to deal with high-pressure games." Also included in Nasri's "us" were Olympique Lyonnais pair 23-year-old Jérémy Toulalan, winning his third cap alongside Claude Makelele in midfield in Vieira's absence and 24-year-old François Clerc, who deputised capably for Sagnol in his fifth international appearance.
"I don't really care if my players are young, have a few caps or 129 like [Lilian] Thuram," said Domenech. "Once they are on the pitch there is no room for mistakes from any of them and they have not made a mistake so far, which is good for the team." France's greenhorns are likely to get another chance to prove their worth on Wednesday as they meet Georgia in Auxerre in their final qualifier before the summer.
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