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Turkish delight for Benzema

7 June 2009 by

Two minutes of madness cost Turkey dear on Friday night, as they went down 1-0 to an under-strength France side in Lyon.

Despite leaving star names such as Patrice Evra and Franck Ribery on the substitutes bench, the French side still contained household names such as Chelsea duo Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka but struggled during the opening exchanges of the friendly in front of 32,000 at the Stade Gerland.

World Cup 2010 Qualifying - France vs Lithuania
Left out – Franck Ribery

Whilst the margin of victory appears narrow to observers, the reality was anything but and a France team containing such names were surprisingly and uncharacteristically profligate.

The absence of captain Thierry Henry through injury was a big factor, and under-fire France coach Raymond Domenech would have no doubt hoped for a more convincing win to ease some of the pressure building upon him after last week’s 1-0 loss at the hands of Nigeria.

In a desperate attempt to inject some pace and energy into his squad Domenech recalled Malouda and handed him a starting berth for the first time in eight months, after the Chelsea man publicly criticized his international manager after Euro 2008.

Club mate Anelka operated mostly from the right, in a role now becoming familiar for club and country, and it was the Premier League golden boot winner who had the first chance of the game for the home side, shooting wide after the half-hour mark.

The match then exploded into life seven minutes before half time. Anelka caused Üzülmez Ibrahim all kinds of problems from his wide position and was heavily involved again in France’s goal, winning a penalty under challenge from the Beşiktaş left back.

Ibrahim was sent from the field of play for pulling back Anelka and Lyon striker Karim Benzema, on his home ground, stepped up comfortably to slot the ball past visiting goalkeeper Volkan Demirel.

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Nine substitutions throughout the game affected the flow, but Demirel was soon in business throughout the second half as Andre-Pierre Gignac, Yoann Gourcuff and substitute Ribery, introduced at the expense of Malouda, all had chances to further extend France’s lead.

Sidney Govou later hit the post and former Newcastle United defender Jean-Alain Boumsong had a header scrambled off the line as Turkey struggled to contain their illustrious opponents, and were forced to endure the wrath of their travelling support who threw missiles onto the pitch, holding play up for five minutes as the Turkish players attempted to restore calm to proceedings.

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