- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 24, 2021

PARIS (AP) - Defending champion France opened its qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup with a tame 1-1 draw against Ukraine, while Bosnia-Herzegovina scored late to draw 2-2 away against Finland in Wednesday’s other Group D game.

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann showed his return to form with the opening goal in the 19th minute. But an own goal from central defender Presnel Kimpembe gifted Ukraine an equalizer in the 57th at an empty Stade de France.

Goalkeeper Heorhiy Bushchan did well to keep out a close-range effort from Olivier Giroud early on. But he was beaten when Griezmann curled in a shot from just inside the right of the penalty area into the left corner.

With his 34th international goal, Griezmann moved level with David Trezeguet in fourth place on France‘s scoring list. Thierry Henry leads with 51.

Giroud has been struggling to get a game for Chelsea since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as coach. He looked a bit rusty and headed over near the break with a decent chance.

Ukraine equalized when Sergii Sydorchuk’s shot clipped Kimpembe as he went to close the midfielder down, and the ball wrongfooted goalie Hugo Lloris before rolling slowly over the line.

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, who reached 100 league goals last weekend, had a poor game for France and was replaced by Anthony Martial for the last 15 minutes.


In Helsinki, striker Teemu Pukki netted twice but Finland couldn’t hold on for the win.

Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic had put the visitors ahead in the 55th. But Pukki, who has netted 22 goals for promotion-chasing Norwich in England’s second tier, equalized three minutes later and put the Finns ahead in the 77th.

But neither team could control the game and winger Miroslav Stevanovic made it 2-2 with six minutes left.

France travels to Kazakhstan and Ukraine hosts Finland in Sunday’s games.


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