Abou Diaby marked his return to international football with the only goal of the game as France began a successful bid to qualify for the 2014 Fifa World Cup. France defeated Finland in what was another solid performer for the Arsenal midfielder.
Although France failed to inspire for most of the match, Les Bleus were rescued from the in form Arsenal player. An assist from Benzema allowed Diaby to open France’s goal account. France produced a moment of class to take the lead in the 20th minute. In something of a role reversal, Karim Benzema did the spadework in midfield before slotting the ball through for Diaby, who got in between Finland’s two centre-backs and finished neatly through the legs of goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky. After a year ruined by injury, it was the 26-year-old’s first goal at international level.
The match marked Didier Deschamps’ first competitive game in charge to end in victory. However, it was not a usual French performance as they looked under par for most of the match. The French victory is partly owed to Hugo Lloris, for a crucial late save as the hosts pushed forward in search of an equaliser.
In a five-team qualifying Group I that features reigning World and European champions Spain as the heavy favourites, France had little option other than to win against a Finland side ranked a lowly 96th in the world.
Abou Diaby has been in stellar form since returning from injury and Arsenal supporters will take confidence in knowing just how influential a fully Diaby could be to a team.