Franck Ribery has claimed France 'knew' they would be unable to finish ahead of Spain when they were drawn together in World Cup qualifying.
France got back on track in UEFA's Group I of World Cup qualifying on Tuesday with a 4-2 win over Belarus with Ribery scoring their first goal in five international matches when he slotted a penalty two minutes into the second half.
Ribery notched a brace in the Belarusian city of Gomel as France recovered from a scoreless draw away to Georgia on Friday to move up to 14 points, level with Group I leaders Spain, although the reigning world and European champions have a game in hand.
France have just one match left in Group I, leaving them unlikely to overhaul Spain for an automatic qualifying berth for next year's World Cup finals in Brazil, although Ribery has argued Didier Deschamps' French team never expected to top the standings.
"We knew that with Spain in the group we would finish second," Ribery said after France's win over Belarus.
With Finland five points adrift of Deschamps' team after Tuesday's qualifiers, France have secured at least a top-two finish in Group I after their victory in Belarus.
The home side led 1-0 and 2-1 but Ribery's second goal, plus strikes from Samir Nasri and Paul Pogba, in the final half-hour ensured France triumphed, which was all Deschamps wanted.
"Mission accomplished tonight," France's head coach told French TV channel TF1.
"We were not the worst team on Friday (against Georgia), we are not the best today.
"There was some tension because of the importance of the game."
France's final qualifier will be a home match against Finland and their only chance of finishing top of the group is if they claim more points from that game than Spain accumulate from their fixtures against Belarus and Georgia.
|21||E. Filipenko||32' 33'|
|Coach: G. Kondratjev|
for S. Drahun 71'
for D. Verkhovtsov 77'
for J. Tigorev 83'
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