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France crash to qualifying defeat in Vienna

  • Story Highlights
  • Austria beat France 3-1 in opening match in World Cup qualifying Group 7
  • Philip Mexes scores own goal and gives away decisive penalty in French defeat
  • Lithuania shock Romania 3-0 to top group after opening round of matches
  • Serbia beat Faroe Islands 2-0 in their Group 7 match in Belgrade
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(CNN) -- France made a disastrous start to their World Cup qualifying campaign as they went down 3-1 to Austria in Vienna in their Group 7 match on Saturday night.

Austria's delighted players celebrate a goal in the Ernst Happoel stadium.

The defeat will increase the pressure on coach Raymond Domenech after his team's disappointing exit from Euro 2008 this summer.

Austria took the lead in the eighth minute when a curling free kick by captain Andreas Ivanschitz into the area was misjudged by France defender Philippe Mexes, who pushed the ball past his goalkeeper Steve Mandana.

Austria made it 2-0 in the 41st from a similar situation.

Ivanschitz's free kick reached Rene Aufhauser, whose shot was slightly deflected by William Gallas to again beat Mandanda.

France worked hard to get back into the match as Lyon's Karim Benzema and the disappointing Thierry Henry at last showed their paces.

In the 60th minute, Benzema's cross from the left reached Sidney Gouvou, who controlled the ball before hammering it into the net at the near post.

Four minutes later, Austria goalkeeper Alexander Manninger pushed a 30-meter shot by Jeremy Toulalan onto the crossbar.

But the French challenge was ended in the 72nd minute when Mexes foolishly pulled down Marc Janko in the area while awaiting a corner and Danish referee Claus Bo Larsen awarded the spot kick, which Ivanschitz converted.

Lithuania are the surprise early leaders of the group after beating Romania 3-0 with goals from Marius Stankevicius, Saulius Mikolinius and Mindaugas Kalonas.

Romania were missing striker Adrian Mutu to an elbow injury and captain Cristian Chivu to a shoulder complaint, but could have no complaints about the home defeat.

Serbia were 2-0 home winners over the Faroe Islands in the other match in Group 7.

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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