France stroll to book play-off place
© AFP

France made sure of a place in the play-offs for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ by comfortably beating Faroe Islands 5-0 today. The result guaranteed Raymond Domenech's side a berth alongside the seven other best runners-up from the European Zone's nine pools, but their automatic qualification hopes were dashed when Serbia secured top spot in Group 7 by overwhelming Romania by the same scoreline.

Andre-Pierre Gignac struck twice to reward France's first-half dominance and they went 3-0 up in the 53nd minute, when William Gallas atoned for an earlier miss by heading home Thierry Henry's deflected cross at the back post.

Jakup Mikkelsen performed heroics in the visiting goal, saving well from Gignac, Nicolas Anelka, Henry and substitute Karim Benzema, before Anelka tapped home France's fourth with four minutes to play after the goalkeeper could only take the sting out of Henry's close-range effort. Benzema made it five with a fine low strike across the goalkeeper after a jinking run, but the result from Belgrade means that there is now nothing riding on France's final game against Austria in Paris on Wednesday.

Les Bleus have struggled in front of goal recently and their pressing need for goals saw them line up in a bold 4-4-2 formation, with Sidney Govou and Henry on the flanks and Anelka alongside Gignac up front.

Faroe Islands stunned Lithuania by beating them 2-1 in their last outing, but they remain one of Europe's weakest sides and quickly found themselves on the back foot against the Germany 2006 finalists.

France twice struck the woodwork, through Govou and Jeremy Toulalan, before Gignac broke the deadlock in the 34th minute when his shot from Anelka's centre dribbled over the line via a deflection off Atli Gregersen. Gallas then saw a free header brush the top of the crossbar from Henry's free-kick, but within seconds Gignac had doubled France's lead by finishing a strong run with a crisp strike into the bottom-left corner.