Blaise Matuidi celebrates scoring the only goal in France's win over Bulgaria.
Blaise Matuidi celebrates scoring the only goal in France's win over Bulgaria.

France closing in on World Cup finals spot

FRANCE is one win away from reaching the World Cup finals in Russia next year after a 1-0 win in Bulgaria.

Blaise Matuidi's early goal proved to be the match-winner with Les Bleus now on top of Group A with 20 points, one ahead of Sweden which thumped Luxembourg 8-0.

France will qualify for the finals with a home win against Belarus tomorrow morning (AEST).

The French are assured of at least a playoff place, with the best eight second-placed teams going through to the two-legged playoffs.

Matuidi struck after three minutes with a fine angled shot and Bulgaria had their best chance denied by Hugo Lloris before half-time.

Meanwhile, in the same group Arjen Robben scored one goal and set up another as the Netherlands kept alive their slender hopes of reaching the finals with a 3-1 victory over Belarus.

The result leaves the Dutch on 16 points from nine matches, three behind second-placed Sweden, who they face in Amsterdam tomorrow in the final Grouo A fixture.

But they will need to make up a 12-goal deficit on the Swedes if they are to make the playoffs.

Sweden have a vastly superior goal difference, and the Netherlands' - runners-up three times -participation in Russia looks highly unlikely.



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