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Soccer-Ribery plays down saviour role after rescuing France

Reuters

PARIS, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Franck Ribery refused to take all the credit for France's 4-2 victory in their World Cup qualifier in Belarus, although his two goals once again showed his importance to the side.

"I'm not the saviour," the UEFA player of the year told French media after twice cancelling out Belarusian goals in the second half on Tuesday as France ended a five-game goalless streak and all but secured a playoff spot.

"I scored at the right moment, when the team needed it, but we're above all happy that we had a strong second half."

The 30-year-old Ribery, the most capped French player on the pitch with 76 international appearances, had already created two and scored one of France's three goals in a 3-1 home win against Georgia in March.

Along with playmaker Mathieu Valbuena, the only other consistent French attacking player, he has been involved in seven of France's last eight goals.

With striker Karim Benzema on the bench after playing 15 games without scoring a goal and replacement Olivier Giroud struggling, France desperately needed an in-form Ribery.

The Bayern Munich midfielder could have missed the game with a buttock injury that prevented him from training normally, but took the risk of aggravating the problem to help his side.

"Other players may have not played but I'm a generous person," he said afterwards.

Coach Didier Deschamps said: "We have one great player with Ribery and he confirmed that here."

France, tied on 14 points with Group I leaders Spain, host Finland in their final qualifier on Oct. 15. (Writing by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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