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France come back to beat Italy

France came from behind to secure a 2-1 win over European Championship finalists Italy in an international friendly at the Ennio Tardini.

Chances were limited in the first half but a flurry of action started when Stephan El Shaarawy put the hosts ahead in the 35th minute, the AC Milan striker’s fourth goal in six competitive games.

But just two minutes later France were level as Mathieu Valbuena netted a sublime solo goal.

Italy were far more positive after the break but some inspired changes from French coach Didier Deschamps paid dividends as Bafetimbi Gomis slotted home the winner in the 67th minute.

However, it was by no means a smooth victory for the visitors as Italy dominated for extended periods of time.

After 10 minutes of play Mario Balotelli had a chance to put the home side in front bus his effort cannoned back off the crossbar.

Although Italy were in primary control of possession, France began to settle into the game and in the 21st minute they finally managed to test Salvatore Sirigu.

Valbuena launched a quick passing move on the edge of the area but his 20-yard shot made for a relatively straightforward save from the goalkeeper.

Much of the match was being contested in the middle of the park, with very little action at either end. However, with 10 minutes remaining until the break the game sprung to life with two goals in quick succession.

It was Italy who deservedly took the lead as El Shaarawy latched onto Ricardo Montolivo’s through-ball, displaying the striking instinct that has made him a sensation this season by slotting a first-time finish through the legs of Hugo Lloris.

Yet France replied almost instantly, and they did so in fantastic fashion.

In possession on the left, Valbuena held off the challenge of Marco Verratti on his way to the byline before cutting inside of Andrea Barzagli.

Giorgio Chiellini was slow to close down the Marseille man and he took full advantage, curling a shot into the far corner to complete a sensational strike.

There was no real change to the dynamic of the match after the break, with the Italians largely dominant and Deschamps’ men limited to the counterattack.

But despite the excellent combination of Christian Maggio and Antonio Candreva down the right, Italy could not find an end product and they were punished in the 67th minute.

Substitute Jeremy Menez dribbled down the left before the ball came to Patrice Evra. The full-back’s shot on goal was completely mishit but Gomis popped up, four minutes after coming on, to divert the wayward ball into the back of the net.

Cesare Prandelli responded by making some changes of his own but the fresh combination of Alessandro Diamanti and Sebastian Giovinco failed to result in a goal as France left Parma with the victory in their final fixture of the calendar year.

Wed 14 November, 2012
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