PARIS (Reuters) – Mathieu Valbuena scored a goal and created two others to help France defeat Georgia 3-1 at home in a World Cup Group I qualifier on Friday and leapfrog Spain at the top of the table ahead of Tuesday’s big clash at Stade de France.
Olivier Giroud headed home a neat Valbuena free kick on the stroke of halftime, breaking the deadlock for a home team who had earlier failed to convert their chances as Karim Benzema extended his goal-drought to an 11th game.
Valbuena, who had scored in France’s two previous games, doubled the lead two minutes into the second half with a powerful half-volley then delivered a long cross for Franck Ribery, who ran down the left and shot to make it 3-0.
Georgia, who had had their chances in the first half, were rewarded for their efforts 10 minutes later when Aleksander Kobakhidze took advantage of a deflected cross to find the net.
France climbed to the top of the group with 10 points from four games, two ahead of world and European champions Spain who could only manage a 1-1 home draw with Finland.
(Reporting by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Mark Meadows)
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