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Deschamps relieved to navigate 'difficult course' to Russia

Didier Deschamps reflected on a "difficult course" to World Cup qualification after France overcame Belarus 2-1 to secure top spot in Group A.

First-half goals from Ballon d'Or nominee Antoine Griezmann and Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud got the job done in Paris on Tuesday.

France's road to Russia 2018 included a draw in Belarus, a stalemate with Luxembourg and a defeat to group runners-up Sweden, ensuring relief was one of coach Deschamps' primary emotions.

"We had a difficult course, tonight the match was not simple either, but we reached our goal," Deschamps, who won the 1998 World Cup as a player, told TF1.

"I am obviously very happy for the players because they deserve it. We're happy, although I know it's logical and normal given the quality of the players I have."

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The 48-year-old noted the contribution of the fans in helping his side progress, particularly on a night when Belarus made life difficult, as Anton Saroka cut the hosts' lead in half before the break and missed a glorious second-half chance to level it up.

"For quite some time we have had an atmosphere that we have not always had, people come and are deep behind this team," Deschamps added.

"Tonight we did not do everything well, there may have been a little tension too and this Belarusian team did not let go. 

"It is important to share [the celebration] with the people who come. The players feel that there is this popular enthusiasm. It has to keep going."