France changes pay off in stunning fashion for Deschamps

Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:07pm EST
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - A selection gamble by coach Didier Deschamps paid off in spectacular style on Tuesday as France overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit to beat Ukraine 3-0 and qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

Les Bleus turned on a super show at the Stade de France and, for once, they were backed by a raucous home crowd.

Deschamps rang the changes after his team were outclassed in Kiev in Friday's first leg, bringing in center backs Mamadou Sakho and Raphael Varane, midfielder Yohan Cabaye, winger Mathieu Valbuena and striker Karim Benzema and it worked a treat.

"We overturned the situation but the credit goes to the players," said former midfielder Deschamps who captained France to their 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 title triumphs.

"It's they who are on the pitch. It's their story, I just live through them," he told a news conference.

Qualification for the finals in Brazil in June means Deschamps's contract is automatically extended by two years until 2016.

He was also in charge of Monaco when they overturned a two-goal deficit against Real Madrid on the way to the 2004 Champions League final but Tuesday's performance was extra sweet for Deschamps.

"I have experienced great moments but tonight we're talking about France and the fact that we're going to the World Cup," he said.   Continued...

France's soccer team coach Didier Deschamps (R) and team mates celebrate after winning their 2014 World Cup qualifying second leg playoff soccer match against Ukraine at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis near Paris November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier