France begin countdown with Ireland win

France 2-0 Republic of Ireland
Second-half goals from Delphine Blanc and stand-in captain Élise Bussaglia helped France to get their EURO preparations under way with a victory.

France coach Bruno Bini
France coach Bruno Bini ©Sportsfile

France 2-0 Republic of Ireland
Second-half goals from Delphine Blanc and stand-in captain Élise Bussaglia helped France to get their preparations for UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ under way with a 2-0 victory against the Republic of Ireland on Thursday

Soubeyrand injured
Already unable to call on Sandrine Dusang after the right-back sustained a serious knee injury in late January, coach Bruno Bini suffered another setback before kick-off when skipper Sandrine Soubeyrand strained a groin muscle in the warm-up. Bussaglia pulled on the armband and orchestrated proceedings from midfield as Les Bleues played some nice first-half football without troubling visiting goalkeeper Emma Byrne.

Goals
Bini brought on Alix Faye-Chelali for her debut in place of Gaëtane Thiney on the hour and the young Olympique Lyonnais midfielder won a free-kick from which France broke the deadlock in the 67th minute. Sonia Bompastor curled in the set-piece left-footed to Blanc who stole in at the far post to nod in the opener. Eight minutes later the victory was sealed as Bussaglia volleyed in a cross from Élodie Thomis.

Cyprus next
Bini introduced another new face, Eugénie Le Sommer, as time ticked by yet his side failed to extend their advantage despite dominating. France will return to action in the Cyprus Women's Cup from 5-12 March in Larnaca, where they meet Scotland, fellow EURO finalists England and South Afirca in the group stage. France are in UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ Group B with Germany, Norway and Iceland.