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Double match-winner

'France Ribéry' captivates a nation

His two goals were worth a precious six points: Franck Ribéry has steered France back on course for next year’s World Cup in South Africa practically single-handedly, and a nation has responded with applause and gratitude. “Merci Francky,” said Le Parisien on behalf of the French football family. “Ribéry to the rescue again,” proclaimed Le Monde. And the Sud-Ouest paper bestowed the title “France Ribéry” on the Bayern midfielder.

“How would Les Bleus cope without their engine and leader?” asked news agency AFP, declaring the 25-year-old to be “the saviour of France” and even floating the possibility of the captaincy: “If he continues in this vein, an early promotion to captain will have to be considered." The armband is currently worn by Thierry Henry, although the former Arsenal hitman was fulsome in praising his team-mate: “Franck sealed the win in Kaunas and now in Paris. He’s having an extraordinary season where everything works out for him. All the better for us.”

Coach praises Ribéry

With the winning goal in Lithuania on Saturday, and the winner on Wednesday evening to send the 80,000 at the Stade de France into raptures, Ribery has been his country’s match-winner twice in the space of four days. “Franck is hugely influential for Bayern, and also for the national team – he’s hugely influential from the moment he steps out onto the field,” commented national coach Raymond Domenech: “Great players have to justify their reputation for both club and country, and Franck does it every time”