Paul Pogba continued his impressive run of form while Anthony Martial scored as France were held to a 1-1 draw by Ukraine in the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers.
As was the case in their last game against Bosnia and Herzegovina, France dominated proceedings for the most part but weren’t able to make the most of their control. Anthony Martial should have put the world champions in front close to half-time but saw his shot saved, and immediately after that Mykola Shaparenko put Ukraine in front with a fine curling strike from just outside the box.
France looked much more purposeful after the break and were back on level terms just five minutes into the second half, with Martial making amends for his first-half miss, as he bundled the ball into the back of the net from close range. Substitute Moussa Diaby came ever so close to winning with for Les Bleus, but his fine individual effort that saw him get past two defenders with ease, only hit the woodwork.
It was another lacklustre display from France and manager Didier Deschamps will be far from pleased from the outcome of the game. However, they continue to be at the top of their qualifying group with nine points from five games, with second-placed Finland four points below, although they do have two games in hand. Here are our player ratings from this closely fought encounter in Kyiv.
Hugo Lloris: 7/10
Kept France in the game with a couple of good stops, with the one to stop Andriy Yarmolenko after the half-hour mark standing out, soon after which he had to make yet another save. Not a lot he could have done about the opening goal.
Leo Dubois: 6/10
Not the best of performances as he had some issues dealing with Viktor Tsygankov in the first period which restricted his forward forays, although he did get a good cross in around the halfway mark. Improved after the break and showed some neat link-up in the right-side channel.
Kurt Zouma: 6/10
Getting a rare start for the national team, the former Chelsea defender did not always inspire confidence at the back and had a role in Ukraine’s opening goal. Improved after that setback though and was key in making several crucial interventions as the game went on to keep France in the contest.
Presnel Kimpembe: 5.5/10
Not the most impressive of performances from France’s senior centre-back as he was at fault for the opening goal from the hosts and looked nervy at times. Did improve with time though, while his passing from the back was sharp for the most part as well.
Lucas Digne: 6/10
A mixed bag from the Everton defender who had his hands full dealing with Andriy Yarmolenko. There was a seeming lack of chemistry with Kingsley Coman on the left, while his crosses did not carry as much venom. Made one key pass.
Paul Pogba: 7.5/10
The Manchester United superstar continued his good early-season form into the game and was easily France’s most effective creative outlet. Always looked to drive the team forward and create openings, Pogba engineered the chance for Martial in the first half which he missed and looked the likeliest to make things happen.
Pogba🇫🇷Tchouaméni says it all.
— Ghost (@AvengerSnake) September 4, 2021
Aurelien Tchouameni: 7/10
Played a fine foil to Pogba in the middle of the park. Won the ball time and again in the middle of the park and always made the best use of it, completing 96% of his passes on the night. Played some eye-catching forward passes to the likes of Diaby and Karim Benzema late on.
Adrien Rabiot: 6.5/10
Did not have the most effective first half but stepped up after the break and was one of France’s key protagonists as they pushed for a way back into the game. Reliable in possession, hard-working off the ball and even had a hand in the equalising goal.
Antoine Griezmann: 6.5/10
No lack of effort as usual, as he completed a game-high six tackles. However, was largely passive for most of the game and only burst into action late in the game when he had the likes of Benzema and Diaby to play off of. His four key passes didn’t lead to much.
Anthony Martial: 6.5/10
Anthony Martial scores his first goal for France in 5 years 💫 pic.twitter.com/Wsxk6fKwX4
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 4, 2021
Handed a very rare start as the No. 9, the Manchester United striker had a shot blocked early in the first half before he failed to beat the Ukrainian goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation on the cusp of half-time. Redeemed himself to score the equaliser and salvage a team for his point with his second international goal, over 1800 days after he scored his first.
Kingsley Coman: 6.5/10
A mixed bag from the French winger, who had his fair share of moments but at times lacked the final pass to capitalise on them. Made good runs and caused issues to the opposition defence. It was his cross that eventually led to the equaliser as well. However, there were a few astray crosses in between as well.
Karim Benzema: 6/10
On for Martial in the 64th minute. Did well to lay the ball off for Diaby leading to his effort on goal. Improved France’s attacking play with his presence.
Moussa Diaby: 6/10
Replaced Coman in the 64th minute. Came close to winning it for France, as his strike hit the woodwork.
Jordan Veretout: N/A
Late replacement for Tchouameni.