France earned a straight-forward victory at the Stade de France on Friday evening as they dismissed of Wales 2-0 in an international friendly.
The visitors, still reeling from their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, failed to get going in Paris and put on a lacklustre showing. Didier Deschamps’ men though were impressive all night as goals from Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud in each half wrapped up a win that could have been far more emphatic.
Va Va Voom
The hosts, as expected, were by far the most threatening side in the early stages. Blaise Matuidi and Corentin Tolisso both went close as their shots went just wide. PSG forward Kylian Mbappé was unlucky to see his effort deflect off of the crossbar. The 18-year-old had done well to find space on the right side but his goal-bound shot ricocheted off the legs of Wayne Hennessey and onto the woodwork.
Didier Deschamps’ men did not have to wait much longer though for their opener in the 18th minute. Following excellent build-up play on the left-hand side of midfield, Tolisso played an excellent lofted pass to Antoine Griezmann. The Atletico Madrid forward tucked the ball home into the bottom corner on the volley to give the French the lead. Hennessey did manage to get a fingertip to the ball but not enough to divert it around the post.
Matuidi could well have doubled the advantage only seconds later from distance but his powerful shot was deflected away by a Welsh body.
Dragons struggle in Paris
Wales continued to struggle in France, the scene where they surely enjoyed some of their greatest nights in their history, without the inspirational Gareth Bale. Vokes, starting up-front on his own, was unable to really threaten the French defence for the majority of the first period. They did create one opening of note though as Gunter connected with Taylor’s cross only to send an unconvincing effort into the arms of Steve Mandanda in the French goal.
As a result, Chris Coleman’s troops headed into the interval behind. Deschamps meanwhile made two changes at the break as he handed international debuts to Steven N’Zonzi and Benjamin Pavard. The duo replaced Christophe Jallet and Tolisso.
French dominance in Paris
The second-half continued pretty much how the first period had concluded – plenty of French chances. First, Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud was thwarted by Hennessey; the Welsh stopper tipping wide following a poor clearance from defender Chris Gunter. Kingsley Coman then struck the post with a low shot from range to the relief of the visitors.
Coleman attempted to react at the Stade de France as he made a peppering of substitutions. Ben Woodburn replaced Joe Ledley, whilst Ethan Ampadu and David Brooks were both introduced for their senior international debuts. Griezmann meanwhile was substituted for Nabil Fekir for the home side.
The changes very nearly paid off for the Welsh. Aaron Ramsey played an excellent pass to Woodburn who in turn crossed towards Ampadu who was arriving late in the box. The Chelsea man’s shot was flicked towards goal by Ramsey but Mandanda produced a great stop to preserve the lead. Barcelona defender Umtiti then cleared an effort off the line as the Welsh pushed for an equaliser.
Giroud goal guts the Dragons
Welsh hope was short-lived however as Olivier Giroud extended the lead mid-way through the second-period. Breaking from a Wales attack, Mbappé passed to the recent Puskas Award winner. Unlike his spectacular effort, the 31-year-old struck the ball straight at the keeper. An unfortunate deflection off of James Chester wrong-footed Hennessey though as the ball nestled in the back of the net.
The visitors’ goal continued to lead a charmed life as the woodwork was struck yet again. Debutant Pavard latched onto Mbappé’s cool pass but poked his shot onto the right-hand post. Mbappé himself then went close but his shot on the turn skipped just wide. In all though, the French wrapped up the win in style as Wales failed to impose themselves on their hosts.
On the night, France were more than good value for the victory. Carving open numerous glorious chances, they could well have beaten Hennessey more than twice. Kylian Mbappé was the stand-out star for Les Blues with his blistering pace troubling the Welsh defence all evening. They head to Germany on Tuesday evening for a clash with the World champions in fine form.
Meanwhile, Wales will be disappointed with how little they were able to threaten their hosts. From Griezmann’s opener t the Stade de France, the result looked in little doubt. They will surely have to improve as they turn their attention to their clash with Panama at the Cardiff City Stadium next week.
France: Mandanda (7); Jallet (7) (Pavard (7), 45′), Koscielny (7), Umtiti (8), Kurzawa (7); Mbappé (8) (Thauvin (N/A), 83′), Tolisso (7) (N’Zonzi (6), 45′), Matuidi (7), Coman (6) (Martial (6), 73′), Griezmann (8) (Fekir (6), 64′), Giroud (7) (Lacazette (5), 73′).
Wales: Hennessey (5); Chester (5), Williams (7), Davies (6) (Ampadu (6), 64′), Gunter (6), Allen (5), Ledley (5) (Woodburn (5), 64′), King (6) (Brooks (6), 64′), Taylor (6); Ramsey (6), Vokes (5) (Lawrence (N/A), 83′).
Goals: Greizmann (18′), Giroud (71′)
Referee: Manuel Jorge Sousa
Yellow Cards: Allen (53′)
Red Cards: N/A
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