Olivier Giroud proved that he is capable of filling in for the injured Karim Benzema as the Arsenal striker scored twice in France’s 2-1 friendly defeat of Denmark.
The Real Madrid star suffered a thigh injury during France’s 4-0 win over Armenia on Thursday and Giroud starred in his absence at the Parken Stadium, netting two early goals as Denmark seemingly had their thoughts elsewhere.
The hosts began the game under a cloud of disappointment after Albania’s 3-0 defeat of Armenia earlier in the day forced Denmark to settle for a European Championship play-off place and that appeared to breed lethargy.
France were two up by the sixth minute, as Giroud netted a quickfire double with the help of unconvincing goalkeeping from Kasper Schmeichel on both occasions.
Denmark scored only eight goals in their qualifying campaign and continued to struggle in the final third, with Nicklas Bendtner a very isolated figure.
The visitors should have made the score even more comfortable, as Anthony Martial and Giroud spurned fine second-half chances, and although Erik Sviatchenko scored a stunning late goal for the Danes, France always looked set for a fourth successive win.
The news that Denmark had missed out on an automatic Euro 2016 qualification spot in Group I seemed to impact on the team’s mentality and within four minutes they were behind.
The lively Martial cut in from the right and played a clever disguised pass into the area for Giroud and the striker fired beyond Schmeichel, who let the ball squeeze under him.
And the Arsenal forward proved decisive again just two minutes later, meeting Lucas Digne’s cross with a volley that Schmeichel parried straight back to him, allowing an easy finish at the second opportunity.
The beleaguered Danes could have fallen three behind with just half an hour played, as France captain Raphael Varane headed Antoine Griezmann’s cross agonisingly wide.
Denmark did eventually worry France in the 36th minute, but Varane made an important block at the near post to deny Christian Eriksen after being fed by Michael Krohn-Dehli.
Morten Olsen opted to replace Jakob Poulsen with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg at the break, though there was little change in Denmark’s fortunes, as France continued to look the brighter.
Martial was the visitors’ most potent threat going forwards and went close twice in quick succession, first blazing just over in the 54th minute, before racing down the left and testing Schmeichel at the near post a few moments later.
Giroud should have completed his hat-trick 24 minutes from time, as he attempted to chip Schmeichel when through on goal and shot straight at the Leicester City goalkeeper.
Denmark pulled one back in stoppage time, with Sviatchenko smashing an outstanding effort into the top-left corner from 30 yards, but it was too little too late as France cruised to an easy win.