Henry’s late strike helps France win

Fort-de-France, November 10:

Nicolas Anelka scored his first international goal in more than four years and Thierry Henry added a late winner to help rally France from a two-goal deficit for a 3-2 victory over World Cup-bound Costa Rica on Wednesday.

Djibril Cisse also scored for France, which is unbeaten since coach Raymond Domenech took charge in July 2004. Alvaro Saborio and Danny Fonseca gave Costa Rica a 2-0 lead before Anelka scored in the 49th minute to start Les Bleus’ comeback.

Liverpool forward Cisse equalised in the 80th and Henry back-heeled a corner from Jerome Rothen into the net the 87th minute for his 31st international goal. Anelka, who last appeared for France in April 2002 against Russia, last scored for the national team against South Korea in May 2001.

Playing before a capacity crowd of 16,000 at the Caribbean island of Martinique’s Stade Dillon, Anelka had two chances within the first seven minutes, failing to connect with Alou Diarra’s flick on from a corner, and running onto a ball from Lilian Thuram but putting a shot into Costa Rican keeper Jose Porras.

The Ticos beat the French in the 14th minute, sending a ball over the top that Saborio took and easily beat keeper Fabien Barthez. Anelka hit the post in the 33rd after a pass from Lyon midfielder Florent Malouda, but Costa Rica doubled its lead in the 41st when Barthez completely missed a cross from the right and Fonseca headed it into the net.

The goal sparked chants of “Coupet, Coupet” from the crowd, referring to reserve goalkeeper Gregory Coupet of Lyon.

Porras preserved the 2-0 lead by thwarting a header from Henry just before half time, but Henry’s cross four minutes after the start of the second half provided Anelka with a simple tap-in for his seventh goal for France in his 29th match.

Porras again thwarted France with a dramatic 73rd-minute save on a shot from Sidney Govou, but Cisse equalised by taking a ball from Vikash Dhorasoo on the edge of the area and curling a shot inside the post.