France slashed for World Cup

  • Last Updated: November 21 2013, 16:21 GMT

France were slashed from 66/1 to 25/1 to win the 2014 FIFA World Cup after they overcame a 2-0 deficit from their first leg with Ukraine to win 3-2 on aggregate.

France celebrate their win
France celebrate their win

Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho set Les Bleus on their way when he opened the scoring in the 22nd minute (matched at 55.0 on Betfair to break the deadlock) and Karim Benzema levelled the scores in the tie 11 minutes later.

Sakho was involved again in the 74th minute when France went 3-0 up, but the crucial strike was awarded as an own goal (Oleh Gusev).

bet365 were 66/1 about France for the World Cup just an hour before kick-off, but they are now 20s, with BetVictor and William Hill both 25/1.

In an equally dramatic second leg in Stockholm, Portugal ensured their passage to the 2014 World Cup with a 3-2 victory (4-2 on aggregate), with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring all three goals.

Having scored the only goal in the first leg, Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were the only players to score in the tie. Ibrahimovic had scored in the 68th and 72nd minutes to level the scores on aggregate, before Ronaldo's late brace.

Portugal were 33/1 chances for World Cup glory prior to kick-off and remain that price with bet365, with Bet Victor and William Hill trimming them to 25/1.

BetVictor cut Ronaldo from 2/1 to 8/11 to be named 2013 FIFA World Player of the Year after his hat-trick in Solna.

Meanwhile, England lost at Wembley for the second time in five days as they went down 1-0 to Germany after Per Mertesacker's header.

However, both Andros Townsend and Adam Lallana impressed to some degree and the bookies cut their odds to be on the plane to Brazil next summer.

William Hill rate Spurs ace Townsend as short as 4/7 to play in June with Southampton's Lallana 5/2.

"Townsend was a danger throughout - he is becoming a consistent threat for the Three Lions and Roy clearly loves him. Lallana is a little behind but did himself no harm with a strong performance - he is clearly enjoying his unexpected opportunity to shine for his country," added Rupert Adams.

Having started for the second successive game after making his international debut on Friday, Lallana is slightly bigger at 11/4 (from 7/2) with Coral.

It's 9/4 that Lallana's Southampton team-mate, Rickie Lambert, is included in England's World Cup squad and 7/4 Ross Barkley.

"After two positive performances for England, Adam Lallana will be very hopeful of Roy Hodgson taking him to Brazil, but his place could be decided by the fitness of other players," said Coral's Tim Reynolds.

In the betting on who will start England's first game at the 2014 World Cup, Joe Hart remains odds-on at 1/5 to start in goal after much improved performance against Germany. Fraser Forster, who started ahead of Hart in England's defeat to Chile on Friday, is now 10/1.

In contrast, William Hill are strongly backing Hart to start England's first World Cup match - he's 1/10 to play in the opener with Fraser Forster and Ben Foster out to 10/1.

Adams continued: "Big Joe showed all his pedigree against quality opponents. He relished the big match atmosphere - we believe he is nailed on to be Roy Hodgson's No1."

  • Update posted at 2220 GMT on 19/11/2013.