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FIFA WC friendlies: Colombia stun France 3-2 ; Brazil thrash hosts Russia

In freezing temperatures at Moscow's vast Luzhniki arena, the Brazilians worked hard to break down Russia's deep defense and netted in three goals in 13 minutes early in the second half.

Edited by: India TV Sports Desk, New Delhi [ Published on: March 24, 2018 9:43 IST ]
Columbia stunned France after being 2-0 down to go 2-3.
Image Source : AP Columbia stunned France after being 2-0 down to go 2-3.

France's casual defending was exposed again as ruthless Colombia rallied from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in a World Cup warm-up on Friday.

European Championship runner-up France scored twice inside 26 minutes through striker Olivier Giroud and wide midfielder Thomas Lemar. But poor concentration from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris let Colombia back in two minutes later, when Luis Muriel's cross eluded him and went in.

Roared on by huge swathes of yellow-shirted fans at Stade de France, Colombia levelled in the 62nd when striker Radamel Falcao swept in James Rodriguez's perfect cross from the right for his 29th international goal. A clumsy foul just inside the penalty area from Samuel Umtiti gifted Colombia a chance to win, and substitute Juan Quintero slammed the spot-kick past Lloris in the 85th.

"Colombia really showed the character of a World Cup side. Not only did we turn the match around, we won it," Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said through a translator. "The players really understood what they needed to do. They switched positions on the pitch and things changed."

Colombia's fans, seemingly filling half the stadium, celebrated wildly at the final whistle. France coach Didier Deschamps, meanwhile, has plenty of thinking to do prior to Tuesday's game away to World Cup host Russia in St. Petersburg.

It must have felt like deja vu for Deschamps. His side twice led away to World Cup winner Germany in November, only to draw 2-2.

Against a spirited and tough-tackling Colombia, France often gave the ball away too easily, particularly in midfield. Colombia caused panic with every attack, particularly down the flanks.

India Tv - The French attack performed well as Lemar and Giroud scored.

Image Source : APThe French attack performed well as Lemar and Giroud scored.

"Our first half hour was of the highest quality. It seemed easy at 2-0 but it never is," Deschamps said. "Colombia knows how to hurt you. We made a few mistakes and they really taught us a lesson, we'll have to learn from it."

Deschamps further underlined his players' shortcomings.

"There's a lot of quality in this team but it's not enough. The highest level requires much more determination," he said. "We had the same amount of possession in the first and second half without the same result. It's happened before, when we've alternated between good and less good, and the second half really wasn't good."

Giroud's 30th international goal moved him level with Jean-Pierre Papin and France great Just Fontaine, who holds the single-tournament scoring record for a World Cup with 13 goals in 1958.

It has been a frustrating season for Giroud, who became No. 3 striker at Arsenal following the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund. He moved to Chelsea in January, but he has managed only one goal so far for the Blues.

But back with France, Giroud shook off his club woes.

He swivelled and slammed a shot into the roof of the net in the 11th minute after a handling error from goalkeeper David Ospina — his former Arsenal teammate — from left-back Lucas Digne's cross.

France's second goal owed nothing to luck.

Antoine Griezmann's backheel found Kylian Mbappe, who dummied a defender and passed left to Lemar. He steadied himself before smacking a powerful shot past Ospina and into the right corner.

Ospina denied the lively Griezmann shortly before the break, but for all of its flair France leaves holes at the back. Muriel volleyed wide in the 50th and, shortly after, Lloris saved his angled shot.

France also has friendlies against Ireland, Italy and the United States before its World Cup opener against Australia on June 16. Les Bleus then face Peru and Denmark in the group stage.

BARCA DUO SHINE AS BRAZIL DEFEAT HOSTS

India Tv - Coutinho scored a penalty for Brazil.

Image Source : APCoutinho scored a penalty for Brazil.

Brazil cruised to a 3-0 friendly win at World Cup host Russia on Friday without the injured Neymar.

In freezing temperatures at Moscow's vast Luzhniki arena, the Brazilians worked hard to break down Russia's deep defence and netted in three goals in 13 minutes early in the second half.

Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev parried Thiago Silva's 53rd-minute shot into the path of Miranda, who scored from close range.

Philippe Coutinho made it 2-0 from the penalty spot nine minutes later, and Paulinho added Brazil's third in the 66th with a header off Willian's cross.

"I think the team is completely ready for the World Cup," said Brazil coach Tite, whose team faces reigning World Cup champion Germany in another friendly in Berlin on Tuesday.

"We had our chances and we scored our goals," he said through a translator. "The team achieved the goal I had set for them and that means the team understood what I would like to see from them."

Brazil is now unbeaten in eight games since a 1-0 loss to Argentina in September, while the Russians haven't won any of their last four.

Tuesday's game against the Germans is the first time those teams will meet since Germany demolished Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup.

"We can't change the past, we can't change history," Tite said. "So what can we do against Germany? We've just got to play football. We've got to be strong tactically, we've got to be strong technically."

Less than three months before the World Cup opens at Luzhniki, the defeat highlighted Russia's vulnerability at the back. Severe injuries to two central defenders this year forced coach Stanislav Cherchesov to field a makeshift five-man back line which was often able to do little more than stay deep and defend in numbers.

India Tv - Paulinho scored for Brazil.

Image Source : APPaulinho scored for Brazil.

The three central defenders had never played together before, so "we are starting from zero once again," Cherchesov said.

On a pitch which seemed worn after hosting a giant election rally for President Vladimir Putin earlier this month, Brazil's margin of victory would have been greater if not for some soft shooting by Brazil in the first half and good saves from Akinfeev in the second.

The Russian keeper showed quick reactions to keep out shots from Paulinho and Coutinho and stopped what might have been an own goal from Alexander Samedov.

Up front, the Russians missed the injured Alexander Kokorin — who is unlikely to return for the World Cup — but still managed to create chances against a sometimes-shaky Brazilian defence.

An excellent chance went to waste late on when Anton Miranchuk hit the bar before his fellow substitute Anton Zabolotny missed an open goal on the rebound.

Alexander Samedov and Miranchuk's brother, Alexei, both failed to score from good positions in the first half.

Overall, Russia was simply outclassed, Cherchesov said.

"There's fault and there's misfortune, and this is a case when it's misfortune, because it's difficult to leap from a certain level up and over several steps," he said. "If you look at the technical side, that team is a bit above us."

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