France draw: ‘We ran out of steam’ moans coach Didier Deschamps

'We could and should have put the game to bed in the first half'

France's forward Antoine Griezmann scores a goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification football match between France and Ukraine at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris, on March 24, 2021.
 / AFP / Anne-Christine POUJOULAT
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Antoine Griezmann scored a superb goal but holders France were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Ukraine on Wednesday as their qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar got off to a stumbling start.

Barcelona star Griezmann curled in the opener in the 19th minute before Andriy Shevchenko's Ukraine drew level courtesy of an own-goal by the unfortunate Presnel Kimpembe just before the hour mark at an empty Stade de France.

It is a result that immediately puts the defending world champions on the back foot, with only the group winners automatically qualifying for next year's finals.

"We could and should have put the game to bed in the first half. We ran out of steam a bit in the second half and we were up against a good team too, although the goal we conceded was avoidable," coach Didier Deschamps said.

France's forward Antoine Griezmann (L) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification football match between France and Ukraine at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris, on March 24, 2021.
 / AFP / Anne-Christine POUJOULAT
Griezmann (left) is congratulated by teammates. AFP

"We are obviously disappointed. It is the first step, we have two more games to come which won't be easy either.

"Qualifying is a long road and it won't be plain sailing."

Eight of the players who started the 2018 World Cup final win over Croatia in Moscow were named in Deschamps' starting side here, with Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Kimpembe, Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot and Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman the only exceptions.

Another of the 2018 final heroes, midfielder Paul Pogba, came on as a second-half substitute after Ukraine had cancelled out the lead given to the hosts by Griezmann.

He arced a shot from the right-hand edge of the penalty box into the far corner to score his 34th international goal on the occasion of his 87th cap.

However Ukraine, with a team featuring six starters from Dynamo Kiev, overcame any sense of injustice from that to equalise with more than a slice of luck.

As France struggled to clear their lines, Oleksandr Karavaev intercepted the ball wide on the right before cutting it back for Serhiy Sydorchuk.

His first-time shot was going wide of the right-hand post before it struck Kimpembe and trickled into the opposite corner, beyond the reach of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko praised his team for their tactical discipline.

"In the first 30 minutes we had problems but we corrected them," he said. "It is very difficult to implement a new system with only one training, we worked a lot with the video analysts.

"We made this choice to cover the space behind, because if we had let talented players in one-against-one situations we would have had problems. We need compact lines."