France blast Faroes 6-0 after fog delay

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TORSHAVN, Oct 13 (Reuters) France blasted the Faroe Islands 6-0 in their Euro 2008 Group B qualifier today despite arriving on the North Atlantic islands hours before the match after their flight was delayed a day by fog.

Nicolas Anelka opened the scoring for the visitors, connecting with a cross from Franck Ribery to beat goalkeeper Jakup Mikkelsen after seven minutes.

A minute later, Thierry Henry won the ball and hit a low shot to the far corner past Mikkelsen to score his 41st goal in 95 appearances for France, equalling a record set by Michel Platini.

France were without striker Louis Saha and usual captain Patrick Vieira due to injuries but had no problem controlling the match with close to 70 per cent possession.

Substitute Karim Benzema headed home a free kick from Ribery on 49 minutes to make it 3-0 before Jerome Rothen scored France's fourth on 64 minutes from a direct free kick.

Benzema scored his second in the 79th minute tapping the ball in from inside the box after a pass from Henry.

The 20-year-old Lyon midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa scored France's sixth in the third minute of injury time to complete the rout.

After last month's shock 1-0 home defeat by Scotland, World Cup runners-up France will qualify for next year's finals if they win their last two qualifiers against Lithuania in Nantes next Wednesday and Ukraine in Kiev on November 21.

DIVERTED PLANE Thick fog at the islands' only airport meant the the French team's plane was diverted to Bergen, Norway, where the players spent the night.

''1-0 or 6-0, it's just the same. We were a bit worried by the conditions after the problems we had travelling there but after 10 minutes we were quite relieved,'' France coach Raymond Domenech told reporters.

The team finally arrived less than four hours before kickoff and the weather cleared half way through the match but did not help their hosts.

''It was an off day for the entire team, and when you play like that against a strong team like France you get a punch in the face like we did today,'' Faroes coach Jogvan Olsen told Reuters.

Henry said equalling Platini's record was extraordinary.

''But what's more extraordinary, is Karim Benzema scoring two goals and Hatem Ben Arfa netting one. It shows the youngsters are performing very well.

''Equalling the record, however, is a pleasure. I would lie if I said otherwise.'' UEFA president Platini played 72 matches for France between 1976 and 1987.

Reuters DKS VP0120

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