France cruise to victory over Italy
Goals from Samuel Umtiti, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé handed France a 3-1 friendly win over Italy in Nice on Friday, Didier Deschamps' men making it two from two as their World Cup preparations continued.
Friday, June 1, 2018
Allianz Riviera, Nice
France 3 - 1 Italy
Deschamps made several changes from the side that beat Ireland on Monday, but his France side nonetheless played with authority right from the off, setting their transalpine neighbours on the back foot early on and never letting up.
Samuel Umtiti got the ball rolling when he tapped home after former Paris Saint-Germain 'keeper Salvatore Sirigu could only parry Mbappé's effort (8'), and then - after N'Golo Kanté hit the post and Mbappé drew a sharp save from Sirigu -Griezmann put France two to the good from the spot after Lucas Hernandez was dragged down in the area by Rolando Mandragora (29').
Dembélé steps up
Although Bonucci managed a reply - scoring on the rebound following a parried shot from Mario Balotelli (36') - France's domination continued and Dembélé volunteered himself as the pointy end of the stick. After skinning two Defenders he unleashed a thunderbolt that smashed off the cross-bar (47') but then the youngster put the game to bed with a magnificent far-post curler that left Sirigu no chance (63').
With gilt-edged chances also falling for the excellent Corentin Tolisso (52') and substitute Florian Thauvin (85'), the scoreline could have been wider but France's 3-1 victory was enough to convince many that Italy coach Roberto Mancini's placing them among the favourites to win the World Cup was not too far wide of the mark. Their next and final pre-World CUp friednly is against the USA at Lyo's Groupama Stadium on Saturday, June 9.
THE PLAYER: Kylian Mbappé
Although he didn't manage to get on the scoresheet, the Paris Saint-Germain prodigy was a constant thorn in Italy's side as he involved himself in the lion's share of France's dangerous moves. The 19-year-old - who was yet to be born when Les Bleus lifted the World Cup in France in 1998 - looks set for a big tournament in Russia.
THE STAT: 5
Both sides may have had six shots on target, but only one of them managed to turn that into three goals. France's clinical finishing played a big part, but so did captain and 'keeper Hugo Lloris, who made no fewer than five saves to keep his side in the match and on the front foot.