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2018 World Cup Qualifying - UEFA, Group Stage

France fail to fire in World Cup qualifier at Belarus

France were unable to make a breakthrough against a resilient Belarus side as Les Bleus began their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 0-0 draw in Borisov.

Didier Deschamps' men applied considerable pressure, particularly in the second half, but had to settle for a point after Belarus goalkeeper Andrey Gorbunov pulled off several good saves.

A great chance went unconverted by Olivier Giroud when he hit a shot the wrong the side of the post after being brilliantly set up by Antoine Griezmann, and he also saw a header come back off the crossbar.

After Belarus' Mikalay Signevich put a tame shot wide early on, France began to send a few attempts towards their hosts' goal.

But Gorbunov had little trouble dealing with Griezmann's ambitious free-kick or Paul Pogba's strike from outside the box, either side of Anthony Martial dragging an effort off-target.

And it was Belarus who looked to have come the closest to a goal yet when Signevich narrowly failed to make contact with a dangerous cross from Timofey Kalachev in the 22nd minute -- although the assistant referee had his flag raised for offside.

While having plenty of possession, Euro 2016 runners-up France were struggling to find much rhythm. Martial did produce a good cross from the left, but a Belarus shirt got there as Giroud tried to head into the net.

Giroud then stretched to try to get on the end of a fine Raphael Varane long ball into the area, but allowed it to bounce harmlessly out of play.

There was little sign of the Arsenal striker's night improving shortly after the break as he was presented with an excellent opportunity by a sublime, back-heeled Griezmann through-ball, only to fire wide.

Giroud was then denied by the woodwork soon after, hitting the bar with a header from a corner that had come about from Gorbunov tipping another Griezmann free-kick just over.

Moments later, Gorbunov was called into action again as he touched Layvin Kurzawa's header behind, and the goalkeeper then threw himself in the way as Griezmann looked to steer Moussa Sissoko's delivery in from close range.

As France continued to threaten, they continued to find themselves thwarted by Gorbunov and his defence.

The goalkeeper got down to parry another Kurzawa header and Pogba could not tuck away the loose ball at the far post as Mikhail Sivakov intervened.

Gorbunov subsequently dealt with shots from substitute Dimitri Payet and Djibril Sidibe to further strengthen his claims to the man of the match award.