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France 2 Serbia 1: Matuidi screamer seals friendly win

Blaise Matuidi helped France keep their Euro 2016 preparations on the right track with his second international brace securing a 2-1 friendly win over Serbia.

Didier Deschamps made six changes from the side that overcame consecutive defeats to beat Portugal 1-0 last Friday, but it was a player that the coach had kept faith with that had the greatest impact.

Matuidi got the hosts off to a strong start by heading home inside 10 minutes and the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder added a sublime second with a 25-yard volley midway through the first half.

Serbia had threatened once through Nemanja Gudelj and eventually put a dampener on the jubilant atmosphere in Bordeaux with a goal from Aleksandar Mitrovic on the brink of half-time.

Only the post stopped Antoine Griezmann putting France two goals ahead once again early in the second half, and even the introduction of Karim Benzema could have no effect on the scoreline at the final whistle.

France started at an impressive pace. Their high press saw them regain possession in the opposition half and Bacary Sagna used it to whip in a cross that Matuidi arrived late to head off the ground and into the top corner.

There was no let up as the chances quickly began to flow with both goalkeepers soon called into action.

Serbia’s Pedrag Rajkovic produced a fantastic reaction save to deny Olivier Giroud at his near post before quarter of an hour had been played.

Hugo Lloris replicated his counterpart’s efforts at the other end as he stopped Gudelj from converting a Nemanja Matic cross three minutes later.

France went back on the offensive and, after Giroud fired wide and Benoit Tremoulinas had a cross tipped behind with the help of the crossbar by Rajkovic, they added to their tally.

Matudi met Mathieu Valbuena’s half-cleared delivery from the resultant set-piece on the volley and sent the ball flying beyond the keeper and into the top corner.

However, the hosts suffered a blow as Serbia managed to pull one back five minutes ahead of the interval.

Dusan Tadic’s floated cross from the left was met by Lazar Markovic, whose volley deflected off Mitrovic and trickled into the corner past the wrongfooted Lloris.

Seven minutes after the restart, France came close to restoring their two-goal cushion, Griezmann’s placed shot coming back off the upright and his follow-up strike sailing over the top.

Valbuena was playing a pivotal role in the hosts’ creative efforts, and after some neat interplay with substitute Geoffrey Kondogbia he curled a rather tame 25-yard effort into Rajkovic’s arms before the hour mark.

France dominated possession but the introductions of Adem Ljajic and Zoran Tosic breathed some new life into Serbia’s attack.

However, following some fine work to beat Eliaquim Mangala in the box, the CSKA Moscow man fired high of the target to leave Serbia with just three wins from their last 12 outings.

Mon 7 Sep, 2015
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