France beats Tunisia 3-1 in friendly | sports | Hindustan Times
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France beats Tunisia 3-1 in friendly

sports Updated: Oct 15, 2008 10:24 IST

Coach Raymond Domenech's confidence of a positive outcome from talks about his job by the French Football Federation was boosted by France's 3-1 defeat of Tunisia in a friendly on Tuesday.

After Issam Jomaa gave Tunisia the lead in the 30th minute, Thierry Henry scored twice and Karim Benzema earned the other goal for the home side at Stade de France.

The win further eased the pressure on Domenech, whose future is set to be decided by the FFF on Wednesday.

After France came back to draw Romania 2-2 on Saturday in World Cup qualifying, some federation members softened their stance toward the unpopular coach.

Following France's group-stage exit from the European Championship, a second defeat in qualifying would have ended Domenech's fraught reign after a 3-1 loss to Austria on Sept 6. The draw in Constanta, and a 2-1 win over Serbia on Sept 10 mean France has only four points from three qualifiers. But the way France came back against Romania seems to have renewed optimism at the FFF.

Domenech was upbeat about his chances of keeping his job and was looking ahead to the future.

"I would go even further and talk about the (2010) World Cup," he said. "My priority is to build a team, to figure out what needs to be improved. That's my job."

France impressed after Jomaa's solo effort put Tunisia ahead. Henry leveled in the 40th and put Les Bleus ahead three minutes after the interval from close range for his 48th international goal. Midfielder Yoann Gourcuff, who scored the equalizer against Romania, improved his fast-growing reputation and was involved in Henry's goals.

Benzema profited from a poor clearance to hit a drive from the edge of the penalty area in the 58th.

"We were able to react again when we went a goal down," Domenech said. "This team doesn't give up and is showing mental qualities as well as technical ability. When you are able to come back it shows that you are in good shape physically." Despite that, 15 goals conceded in the last seven games had him concerned about the defense.

"There were unusual technical errors from players who don't normally make them," Domenech said. "We gave ourselves problems without the opposition needing to do."

Tunisia coach Humberto Coelho was rebuilding with young players after taking over in June from former France coach Roger Lemerre, who had six years in charge of the Carthage Eagles. "We played very well in the first half, but in the second half we made some mistakes," Coelho said. "We showed some quality, we had some young players out there and we are going to continue to work and progress."

At Stade de France, Franck Ribery went close to scoring when his shot from 25 yards (meters) flew narrowly past the top right corner in the 39th. Tunisia broke immediately up the other end and Jomaa twisted inside defender Jean-Alain Boumsong and beat goalkeeper Steve Mandanda with a low shot under his body.

Henry headed narrowly wide from Ribery's cross moments later, but the FC Barcelona striker equalized with a brilliant finish after swapping passes with Gourcuff and curling a shot into the top corner without breaking stride.

Gourcuff had also set up Ribery's goal as France came back from 2-0 down in Romania.

Domenech was without several key players against Tunisia. Patrick Vieira (calf), William Gallas (thigh), Nicolas Anelka (thigh) and Bakary Sagna (knee) were all missing through injury. Rod Fanni made his international debut and Gael Clichy played in only his second match for Les Bleus. The rest of the team was unchanged from Saturday.

Tunisia fans largely outnumbered French fans, decking out the stadium with their national flag, chanting "Tunisie, Tunisie," booing the French national anthem, and booing when France's players' names were read out.

"It's not easy playing at home and getting jeered," Henry said. "It's not the first time it's happened. We managed to come back in difficult circumstances."