Ribery strike beats Lithuania... again

PARIS - Franck Ribery boosted France's World Cup qualifying hopes with a second-half goal to secure a 1-0 win over Lithuania in Group Seven on Wednesday. Ribery, who also netted the winner in Lithuania on Saturday, poked the ball home from an Andre-Pierre Gignac cross 15 minutes from time. The result lifted France to second in Group Seven with 10 points from five games, two behind leaders Serbia and one above third-placed Lithuania. "We knew it was going to be complicated because of our opponent's (defensive) strategy," France coach Raymond Domenech told reporters. "Ribery is one of the key elements in this team, just like Titi (Thierry Henry) and William (Gallas). "In every generation, you need a great player. We are lucky because we have four or five," he added. "Franck converted the work of the whole team. Every time I say 'bravo' but the most important thing is that the players are working together." His Lithuania counterpart, Portuguese Jose Couceiro, said: "It is not easy to play against France. Today, Lithuania played better than on Saturday. We had some problems but some players were playing their first full 90 minutes since the season started (in Lithuania)." WAVED ARMS A minute's silence was observed before the start of the game following the stadium crush in Ivory Coast on Sunday which killed at least 19 people before a World Cup qualifier against Malawi. Ribery and fellow midfielder Yoann Gourcuff proved a tricky combination for the Lithuania defence, with Ribery's low 20-metre drive being tipped away by Zydrunas Karcemarskas after 20 minutes. Gourcuff waved his arms in outrage when he was denied a penalty after tumbling in the area under a challenge six minutes into the second half. The playmaker was replaced by striker Karim Benzema but substitute Gignac's introduction in place of Peguy Luyindula proved Domenech's master-stroke. Ligue 1's top scorer, winning his first cap, fed Ribery a perfect cross in the 75th minute and the midfielder tapped in. Lithuania did not have the firepower to create an equaliser and France, two points behind group leaders Serbia, next play away to the Faroe Islands in August.