France held to 1-1 draw by Paraguay

Victor Caceres flicked home an 89th minute equaliser as Paraguay held World Cup bound France to a 1-1 draw on a wet evening in Nice on Sunday.

Substitute Antoine Griezman had appeared to give the French victory when he curled home an 82nd minute right foot shot before Caceres stunned the crowd on the Cote d’Azur with his late heroics.

Unfit Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery was on the team list as was recently crowned Champions League winner Karim Benzema of Real Madrid although neither player came off the bench.

When asked about Ribery’s ongoing back problem, Deschamps said he hoped the former Marseille winger would be ready in a week’s time.

“I’ve already spoken about it and I have nothing new to add. We’ll do everything so he’s ready for next Sunday,” said Deschamps in reference to France’s final preparation match against Jamaica at Lille.

The match looked to be heading for a scoreless stalemate before the ever present Olivier Giroud had his goalbound attempt parried into the path of Real Sociedad striker Griezman who curled the ball into the far corner.

But with time running out, a free kick from Jorge Rojas was glanced past Tottenham ‘keeper Hugo Lloris who will be disappointed not to have made the save.

In a repeat of the second round match from the 1998 World Cup when Laurent Blanc scored a golden goal winner before France went on to win their only World Cup to date, goals were scarce until the dying moments.

Arsenal striker Giroud was the best threat for the home side with a series of close range headers but the South Americans who failed to qualify for the World Cup proved a hard nut to crack.

The match was the second Brazil buildup for Deschamps’ side after they brushed aside Norway 4-0 last Tuesday, helped by a brace from Giroud.

“We can’t win every match 4-0 but there were a lot of good things tonight,” said Deschamps.

“On the free kick at the end, we probably retreated too much into our own box but we were playing a good team who know how to defend.

“We were not at full strength but we had good intentions and there were positives.” added Deschamps.

An uneventful first half produced few clear cut scoring chances with the visiting South Americans clogging up midfield and closing down the French at every opportunity.

One of the better chances for France came midway through the first half when Giroud nodded down a clever ball for Newcastle’s Loic Remy to run onto but the former QPR marksman scooped his close range shot over the bar.

France open their World Cup campaign on June 15 against Honduras in Porto Alegre before following Group E matches against Switzerland on June 20 and Ecuador on June 25.


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