Video by @MostarLFC
This World Cup qualifying campaign has thrown up some surprises and seeing France — a perennial European superpower — fail to qualify through the group stages was one of the biggest. After dropping two goals behind in the first leg of their playoff with Ukraine, Les Bleus needed to score at least three in Paris to have a shot of participating in next summer’s showpiece event — and they did just that with a brace coming through an unlikely source.
It was just last month that Mamadou Sakho was crediting his deadline day move to Merseyside for a recall to the France squad and his contribution yesterday was absolutely massive as Didier Deschamps spared the nations blushes. The man Brendan Rodgers calls “Killer” played the full ninety minutes and sandwiched a contentious Karim Benzema strike with goals on either side of the half.
Mathieu Valbuena’s probing freekick was cleared only as far as Franck Ribéry, and though the Bayern Munich mans shot was well saved by Ukraine ‘keeper Andriy Pyatov, he could do nothing to stop Mamadou Sakho — loitering in the box following the set piece — finishing from a tight angle. The Liverpool defender has been in fine form since popping up at Anfield after falling out of favour at PSG, and though he’s better known for breaking up scoring opportunities, he wrote his name into French football history by scoring the winner.
No European team had ever turned around a two goal first leg deficit until yesterday; Real Madrid forward Benzema doubled the hosts lead with a goal from a clearly offside position, but Sakho’s second couldn’t be denied when the defender once again found himself in the right place at the right time to turn in Ribery’s cross after the ball somehow eluded defender Oleg Gusev.
Sakho was an unused substitute in Liverpool’s 4-0 dismantling of Fulham last time out as Reds boss Brendan Rodgers adjusted the formation and handed vice-captain Daniel Agger a recall to the squad. With the Merseyside Derby looming large at the weekend, a pair of goals for France could be just enough to earn the Mountain an immediate recall to the squad — leaving a striker that just scored two on the bench would be nuts, right?