France in danger, Ronaldo edges Portugal towards finals
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - France's hopes of reaching the World Cup finals are hanging by a thread after a 2-0 first-leg defeat away to Ukraine in their playoff on Friday while Cristiano Ronaldo's late winner gave Portugal the edge against Sweden.
Ten-man Iceland battled to 0-0 home draw with Croatia in Reykjavic to keep alive their dream of qualifying for a first major tournament while Greece will be confident of finishing off Romania next week after a 3-1 victory in Athens.
Of the eight European nations in the last-chance saloon after missing out on automatic passage to next year's tournament in Brazil, France are the worst placed going into next week's second legs after a miserable night in Kiev.
Second-half goals by Ukraine's Roman Zozulia and Andriy Yarmolenko and a red card for France defender Laurent Koscielny made it a night to forget for Didier Deschamps' side who need a vast improvement in Paris on Tuesday to repair the damage.
"It's obviously a very bad result. We have to believe (we can go through) but Ukraine are the team in the best position to qualify," he said.
France last failed to reach a major tournament in 1994 but Deschamps, who was part of that squad, remained defiant.
"We still have 90 minutes at home," he added.
RIBERY SHACKLED Continued...