France '˜must win last two' to qualify '“ Olivier Giroud
Didier Deschamps’ star-studded side headed into Sunday’s qualifier on the back of Thursday’s 4-0 mauling of Netherlands, but were held to a shock goalless draw in Toulouse by the minnows placed 126 below them in the Fifa world rankings.
A combination of the woodwork, inspired goalkeeping by Jonathan Joubert and indifferent finishing made for a fruitless evening for Les Bleus – who would have ensured a top-two finish in Group A with a win.
“There is a lot of frustration and disappointment,” Arsenal striker Giroud, pictured, said after the match.
“We have to be realistic, efficient. We had to open the scoring in the first half and make things easier for ourselves.
“We’re going to have to win the last two games to go to the World Cup. It’s never easy to qualify.”
France remain top of their pool – one point ahead of Sweden and four clear of Netherlands – with two games to play, against Bulgaria and Belarus next month.
Paris St Germain forward Kylian Mbappe said: “There is a great disappointment because we had the opportunity to consolidate our first place and to keep a considerable lead on the other contenders.
“Now we have not managed to score. We are disappointed but not downed. We will get back to work in our clubs and come back to qualify in the last two games.”
Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann both struck the crossbar while Mbappe, Djibril Sidibe and Samuel Umtiti were also unable to make the most of numerous openings.
It could have been much worse for the 1998 World Cup winners, though, as Luxembourg midfielder Gerson Rodrigues fired a shot against the post with 12 minutes left.
Barcelona defender Umtiti said: “Against the Netherlands we were all in motion, we struck. We managed a few chances [on Sunday night] but we missed.
“We had the chances, we threatened a lot on goal, but every time there was a defender or goalkeeper. We tried to do the best we could, but honestly we know we can do much better.”
The result capped a great week for Luxembourg, who defeated Belarus 1-0 on Thursday.