Martial’s goal not enough as France held 1-1 at Ukraine

Sports

KYIV, Ukraine (AP)Anthony Martial’s first goal in five years was not enough as France drew at Ukraine 1-1 in World Cup qualifying on Saturday to remain winless in five games.

Midfielder Mykola Shaparenko’s stunning strike just before halftime put Ukraine ahead, and Martial equalized in the 50th with a scrappy finish.

France leads Europe Group D with nine points from five games while Finland is second with five points but has played two games less. The Finns are ahead of third-placed Ukraine on goal difference after beating Kazakhstan 1-0, and travel to face France in Lyon on Tuesday.

France missed striker Kylian Mbappe, who hurt his right calf in the 1-1 draw with Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday. He had a similar injury toward the end of last season.

Martial took his place but was too casual in the 44th when Manchester United teammate Paul Pogba’s astute pass put him clean through. Martial tried to place it through goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov’s legs but it was saved.

Ukraine charged up the field and scored when Shaparenko curled the ball in from 20 meters after France defender Kurt Zouma failed to clear a cross.

Shaparenko looked tearful celebrating his first international goal at the stadium where he plays for Dynamo Kyiv, while the crowd roared and new coach Olexandr Petrakov jumped up and down on the touchline.

France coach Didier Deschamps had just asked forward Karim Benzema to warm up when Martial equalized, squeezing the ball just over the line after Adrien Rabiot climbed high to nod down Kingsley Coman’s cross.

It was only Martial’s second goal for Les Bleus; his other was against Italy.

Benzema came on for the last 30 minutes and his superb flick gave Moussa Diaby a great chance but he struck the post after rounding a defender.

One bright spot for Deschamps was the performance of Aurelien Tchouameni, who was outstanding in central midfield on his first start.

Earlier in Helsinki, striker Joel Pohjanpalo’s 60th-minute goal was enough as Finland downed Kazakhstan, which is bottom with two points.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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