France edge past Iceland in friendly
Franck Ribery scored his first international goal for more than three years and Adil Rami grabbed a late winner as France rallied to beat Iceland 3-2 at home on Sunday in a European Championship warmup match.sports Updated: May 29, 2012 01:25 IST
Franck Ribery scored his first international goal for more than three years and Adil Rami grabbed a late winner as France rallied to beat Iceland 3-2 at home on Sunday in a European Championship warmup match.
Coach Laurent Blanc picked an experimental and attacking lineup, featuring several fringe players. The move soon backfired as Iceland went 2-0 up at halftime thanks to goals from Birkir Bjarnason and Ajax striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.
Right back Mathieu Debuchy pulled one back early in the second half but France struggled until Ribery and striker Olivier Giroud came off the bench.
Giroud set up Ribery's 85th-minute goal with an exquisite chip over the defense, and then showed great composure a minute later to head a cross down to Rami, who blasted the ball home.
"We reacted well in the second half, and by changing the balance of the team a bit we created a lot of chances,'' said Blanc, who will choose his final 23-man squad for Euro 2012 this week.
Sigthorsson created Iceland's first goal with a superb piece of skill as he flicked the ball past Debuchy and crossed for Bjarnason, who finished with a neat half-volley past goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.
France's defense was exposed again for the second goal, this time on the other flank, when Rurik Gislason beat left back Patrice Evra for pace and whipped over a cross for Sigtho-rsson to finish.
France attacked strongly from the restart and equalized in the 52nd minute.
Hatem Ben Arfa cut inside from the left and found striker Karim Benzema, whose perfectly weighted pass allow-ed Debuchy time and space to fire the ball inside the near post.
Giroud, the French league's top scorer with 21 league goals, showed his altruism when he cushioned a pass from Ribery with one touch and then chipped the ball back to him over Iceland's flat-footed center backs.
Ribery controlled it perfectly and lifted the ball into the roof of the net for his first goal since April 2009.
"Of course it feels good to score,'' said Ribery, who now has eight international goals. "I'm very happy for myself and for the team. We wanted to win the game, and even when we were 2-0 down we believed we could.''
Two minutes later, Rami grabbed his first international goal when Giroud showed great awareness to cushion a header down to him, and the center half smashed the ball home from near the penalty spot.
Although France responded well in the second half, the poor defending will give Blanc some cause for concern ahead of Euro 2012.
France has two friendlies against Serbia and Estonia before opening its Euro 2012 campaign against England on June 11.
First Published: May 29, 2012 01:23 IST