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France run into 'yellow wall' in Ukraine

Published: Saturday 16 November 2013, 8.52CET
"We can't get too excited," said goalscorer Andriy Yarmolenko after Ukraine's 2-0 play-off win against France – "a very bad result" for visiting coach Didier Deschamps.
by Igor Lynnik & Christian Châtelet
France run into 'yellow wall' in Ukraine
Edmar and Andriy Yarmolenko celebrate Ukraine's win against France ©AFP/Getty Images

Published: Saturday 16 November 2013, 8.52CET

France run into 'yellow wall' in Ukraine

"We can't get too excited," said goalscorer Andriy Yarmolenko after Ukraine's 2-0 play-off win against France – "a very bad result" for visiting coach Didier Deschamps.

Ukraine are striving to keep the excitement in check after a Roman Zozulya goal and Andriy Yarmolenko's penalty secured their first win against France in eight attempts, but the 2-0 defeat is not the end for Les Bleus, even though they will have to be the first side to overturn a two-goal deficit in a FIFA World Cup play-off if the are to make it to Brazil.

Andriy Yarmolenko, Ukraine midfielder
When Roman Zozulya earned the penalty, I knew I would score it. The goalkeeper pushed the ball on to the bar, but the most important thing is that it found the net. But we can't get too excited now. We have to watch the footage of this match and analyse everything so we can prepare well for the second leg. I believe the most important thing will be solid defending and counterattacking. We need to score in France.

Ruslan Rotan, Ukraine midfielder
That was an extremely hard game, but we expected that as France are a top team. We got our tactics right, but the players had to work hard and show full commitment. Closing down [Franck] Ribéry took a lot of energy, but we managed to do it. The most important thing is that we won. I have to thank our fans, but only half of our job is done. Another match lies ahead, and that one will be twice as tough.

Mikhail Fomenko, Ukraine coach
I have to agree that 2-0 is a good, solid result to take into the second match, but we can only judge this result after the game in France. Of course, it would have been much better to win 3-0, especially as we had chances to score the third goal. In defence, we chose the right tactics, which helped us to close down Ribéry.

We didn't have to motivate the players for a match like this. We just had to make the lads understand that it is all down to them alone – you can't just win a match without making any effort. But the main thing is mentality. There was a spell in the game when things were not going according to plan, and I had to make some changes, and then we started to play a more compact game. And when we opened the score, it was a real breakthrough.

Didier Deschamps, France coach
We had some chances. Their first goal lifted them, and after that we made a mistake to give away the penalty. It's obviously a very bad result for us. They have the edge and Ukraine are in the better position after this game. However, there are still 90 minutes to play, and if there has to be a first team to overturn a two-goal deficit in a World Cup play-off, why shouldn't it be us?

Hugo Lloris, France goalkeeper
They were well organised – a yellow wall. We struggled to find a solution to that. They were aggressive and we struggled to create chances. In terms of spirit, we were fine – we matched them in terms of commitment. They couldn't have played a better game than that – it all went great for them. It's a pity for us, but we are not down. Hope remains. We'll have to fight to earn the luck we lacked tonight. We know we have the skills to come back, but that will only happen if we have a near-perfect game in Paris on Tuesday night. We are on the pitch, so we have to find the answers to get the result.

Blaise Matuidi, France midfielder
It will be a tough second-leg. We were up against a very physical team who put us under lots of pressure. We'll play with our hearts and guts in the second leg to get our place in the finals. We're disappointed, but certainly not without hope. We would have been happier with a different scoreline, but there is still a game to go to make it through.

Last updated: 18/11/13 16.08CET

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