Shocker In France! Thriller In Portugal!

Belarus secured a famous victory after Sergei Kislyak's late goal stunned UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group D favourites France in Laurent Blanc's first competitive game in charge. Les Bleus rarely clicked into top gear but were nevertheless dominating proceedings when substitute Kislyak struck the killer blow on 86 minutes. The FC Dinamo Minsk midfielder had been on for 11 minutes when he collected Vyacheslav Hleb's cross and side-footed coolly into the top corner. The hosts had been foiled on numerous occasions by Belarus's inspired goalkeeper Yuri Zhevnov, but they have now lost four straight games and will need to stop the rot away against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Tuesday, when Belarus play host to Romania.

There was a buzz of anticipation at kick-off as the former world champions looked to usher in a new era, yet the home fans had little to cheer in a subdued first half. Blanc picked five survivors from France's FIFA World Cup campaign, but it was two new faces who first combined to dangerous effect, Loïc Rémy nodding Jérémy Menez's 17th-minute corner wide. While there was little fluency from Les Bleus, Belarus defended tenaciously and worried Blanc's new-look backline at times. Adil Rami twice saved his team with last-ditch blocks, the LOSC Lille Métropole defender keeping out Aleksandr Kulchiy's drive early on then getting in the way of Vitali Rodionov's dangerous header on 18 minutes.

Zhevnov must have arrived in Paris expecting a busy night but he was not called into action until first-half added time, when he parried a Florent Malouda drive. Belarus's captain needed to be far sharper after the interval, however, conjuring a fine save from a powerful Menez attempt three minutes in. With the visitors struggling to clear, substitute Mathieu Valbuena then cut the ball back neatly only for Guillaume Hoarau to scoop over. Yann M'Vila was the next to sting Zhevnov's hands as the chances began to pile up, although the visitors might have opened the scoring on 51 minutes. Vyacheslav Hleb's perfectly timed ball split the France defence, but Rodionov shot wide with only Hugo Lloris to beat. It looked like Bernd Stange's men might rue that miss, yet Hoarau headed off target and Valbuena saw his dipping volley pushed over by the superb Zhevnov on 71 minutes.

Indeed, the goalkeeper's heroics seemed to inspire his team-mates, who silenced the Stade de France with Kislyak's clinical goal. Kevin Gameiro almost salvaged a point in added time, but when his strike flew fractionally over the game was up for France.

Meanwhile, Portugal made a disastrous start to its 2012 European Championship qualifying campaign as it was held to a 4-4 draw at home by Cyprus. Andreas Avraam scored the equalizer two minutes from the end of the Group H game as Portugal, playing without injured Cristiano Ronaldo and suspended coach Carlos Queiroz, paid for its defensive blunders. Portugal twice rallied from deficits after Cyprus scored two goals in the first 11 minutes. The patchy Portuguese performance came as the national team looks to repair its reputation after going out in the second round of the World Cup against eventual champion Spain. But Portugal has been unsettled by the absence of Queiroz, who watched the game from a VIP box at the stadium while his assistant Agostinho Oliveira took charge.

Also, three of Portugal's most capped players - midfielder Deco, winger Simao Sabrosa and defender Paulo Ferreira, have retired from international football since the World Cup. Portugal had won all eight previous matches against Cyprus. "They were very quick on the counterattack. We weren't able to stop them. We were uneasy in defense," Oliveira said. Efstathios Aloneftis picked up a weak back-pass from Raul Meireles and stunned the home crowd with a chip over goalkeeper Eduardo in the third minute. Hugo Almeida leveled five minutes later with a glancing header from Nani's cross, but Michael Constantinou put Cyprus back in the lead in the 11th after getting between Portugal's central defenders and rounding Eduardo.

Meireles made it 2-2 just before the half-hour with a powerful long-range shot. Four minutes after the restart, Danny headed in his third international goal to put Portugal ahead for the first time. But Ioannis Okkas, Cyprus' most-capped player, came on as a substitute in the 55th and two minutes later beat the offside trap to sidefoot an equalizer past Eduardo. Manuel Fernandes netted in the 60th with a thundering shot into the top left corner, and in a late period of Portuguese pressure Nani hit the bar with a free kick in the 74th and substitute Liedson hit the post with a left-foot shot.

But Avraam was unmarked in the area after Eduardo failed to hold a shot and he headed in from close range in the 89th.

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