Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

Fixtures & Results

Denmark DNK 1

Australia AUS 1

REPORT

France FRA 1

Peru PER 0

REPORT

Argentina ARG 0

Croatia CRO 3

REPORT

Brazil BRA 2

Costa Rica CRI 0

REPORT

Nigeria NGA 2

Iceland ISL 0

REPORT

Serbia SRB 1

Switzerland SUI 2

REPORT

Belgium BEL 5

Tunisia TUN 2

REPORT

South Korea KOR 1

Mexico MEX 2

REPORT

Germany GER 2

Sweden SWE 1

Full Time

England ENG

Panama PAN

Japan JPN

Senegal SEN

Poland POL

Colombia COL

Saudi Arabia SAU

Egypt EGY

Uruguay URY

Russia RUS

Spain ESP

Morocco MAR

Iran IRN

Portugal POR

Denmark DNK

France FRA

Australia AUS

Peru PER

Iceland ISL

Croatia CRO

Nigeria NGA

Argentina ARG

Mexico MEX

Sweden SWE

South Korea KOR

Germany GER

Switzerland SUI

Costa Rica CRI

Serbia SRB

Brazil BRA

Senegal SEN

Colombia COL

Japan JPN

Poland POL

Panama PAN

Tunisia TUN

England ENG

Belgium BEL

Home Sport Football

France coast to victory over Republic of Ireland

Les Bleus win comfortably at a rain-soaked Stade de France.

Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir staked their claims for France’s World Cup opener as they struck to condemn the Republic of Ireland to a 2-0 friendly defeat amid a torrential Parisian downpour.

Chelsea frontman Giroud scored from close range and then saw keeper Colin Doyle’s howler hand Fekir a second before the half-time whistle sounded on a night when Didier Deschamps’ Russia-bound side turned in a slick display.

They face Italy and the USA before they open their campaign against Australia in Kazan on June 16, and they may hope for tougher tests with Ireland offering the physicality for which Deschamps chose them – both James McClean and Harry Arter were booked for rash challenges – but little else.

Where the home side, prompted from midfield by the excellent Blaise Matuidi behind a front three of Giroud, Fekir and the mercurial Kylian Mbappe, were fluid and incisive despite the absence from the starting line-up of N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann, Martin O’Neill’s experimental team were almost permanently on the back foot.

Lining up with West Ham defender Declan Rice sitting in front of the back four, they were very nearly undone within three minutes of the kick-off when Djibril Sidibe dispossessed McClean inside his own half and fed Mbappe, whose side-footed effort curled just wide of Doyle’s far post.

McClean’s evening was not going to plan and he picked up a 21st-minute booking for a clumsy challenge on Matuidi before Fekir curled the resulting free-kick just wide from 20 yards.

Doyle was called upon for the first time when fit-again full-back Benjamin Mendy surged into space on the left and unleashed a fierce left-footed strike which the keeper parried firmly away with the home side attacking in waves.

But it was far from the last and he had to save at his near post from Mbappe before Giroud glanced a header wide, and the woodwork came to his rescue seven minutes later when Corentin Tolisso swept a first-time shot against the upright from Sidibe’s cross.

However, the keeper’s luck ran out when, after he had managed to repel Giroud’s 40th-minute header from a Fekir corner, the striker’s follow-up appeared to cross the line before Seamus Coleman blocked it and he made sure by stabbing home at the third time of asking.

Doyle’s night took a turn for the worse within four minutes when he managed to get a hand to Fekir’s shot, but could only help it into his own net.

Shane Long sent an injury-time header well over, the Republic’s only first-half attempt of note, and had it not been for Doyle’s swift reaction to turn away Giroud’s shot on the turn six minutes after the restart, it would have been 3-0.

Midfielder Alan Browne was relieved to see his attempted clearance sail over, rather than under his own crossbar with France pressing relentlessly, and Doyle needed two attempts to collect Matuidi’s 61st-minute diving header.

Pogba and Griezmann were both introduced as late substitutes, as was Shamrock Rovers striker Graham Burke, a debutant along with Derrick Williams and Shaun Williams, although there was not much else notable about Ireland’s evening at the Stade de France.

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph