France got their World Cup preparations underway with an impressive 4-0 victory against Norway at the Stade de France
It was Paul Pogba who put the home side ahead - cheered by a confident and happy French crowd glad to see a united French team - when he headed in unmarked from a Mathieu Valbuena cross from the left wing. France looked the more energetic and creative side, but did not have it all their own way.
Towards the end of the first half, Tom Hogli was set free by Joshua King's surging run, but Stephane Ruffier, making his second French appearance, palmed away his shot from a tight angle.
In the second half, it took France seven minutes to get their second, when Olivier Giroud's great finish over Orjan Nyland settled the game. Loic Remy added a third just moments after coming on as a substitute, and just moments later Valbuena set up Giroud for a fourth.
France have left their home country on a high note, and have two more friendlies to prepare for the World Cup. Should things continue to improve at such a rate as this, they could be the surprise team of the tournament. Didier Deschamps has turned a collection of players into a team, for now at least.
15' - POGBA GOAL - Valbuena takes up the ball on the left wing, steps onto his right foot and curls in a cross for Pogba to steer into the corner.
18' - POGBA SHOT - Pogba strides forward from midfield and slices a long-range drive just past the post.
26' - NORDTVEIT FREE KICK - France have a lucky escape when Havard Nordtveit sends a skidding free kick under the wall and wide of the post.
39' - TETTEY SHOT - Alexander Tettey has space in midfield, advances towards goal and sends a shot just a yard wide.
42' - HOGLI SHOT - Receiving a reverse pass on the left of the box, Hogli's shot is beaten away by Stephane Ruffier at his near post.
52' - GIROUD GOAL - Giroud controls Valbuena's pass on the edge of the box, and volleys a great shot over Nyland to add France's second.
67' - REMY GOAL - Striding onto a Debuchy pass through the middle of the Norway defence, Remy slots in easily.
69' - GIROUD GOAL - Lucas Digne sets Valbuena through on the byline and his cross is turned in by Giroud at the near post.
72' - REMY MISS - Blase Matuidi's through ball sets up Remy to drag a shot just wide.
86' - REMY SHOT - Remy brings the ball forward, finds Moussa Sissoko on the left, whose cross is returned to Remy but his volley is saved.
90' - REMY CHIP - With the game won, Remy has the confidence to attempt a chip, but the 'keeper tips it over the bar.
Norway finished fourth in their group in failing to qualify for the World Cup, and on this showing were lucky to finish even that high.
In the first fifteen minutes of the second half, France had more than 80 per cent of the possession.
Alex Ferguson gave Paul Pogba three Premier League appearances.
Can France keep it together? For years, France have had some of the most talented youngsters in world football, and some of the best senior players too. Putting them together, effectively and with a manager who can command respect from any of all of the squad, has been the problem. Laurent Blanc was not able to manage it, but it appears another French World Cup winner, Didier Deschamps, stands a much better chance.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Paul Pogba (Juventus): The brilliant midfielder showed just why Alex Ferguson was so spectacularly wrong to play Rafael Da Silva ahead of him in midfield, and why some bloggers were even more spectacularly wrong to rate Ryan Tunnicliffe as the better prospect. Pogba was destructive against Norway, and constructive on the attack. After the World Cup he will possibly cost a team a fortune in transfer fees.
France: Ruffier 6, Debuchy 6, Evra 6, Sakho 5, Koscielny 5, Cabaye 6, Matuidi 7, Pogba 8, Giroud 7, Valbuena 7, Griezmann 6. Subs: Sissoko 6, Digne 7, Remy 6, Mavuba 6, Cabella 6,
Norway: Nyland 6, Hogli 6, Linnes 4, Hangeland 5, Johansen 5, King 5, Nordtveit 5, Elyounoussi 5, Tettey 6, Jenssen 5, Daehli 6. Subs: Braaten 6, Nielsen 6, Konradsen 6, Samuelsen 6.
- Sports & Recreation
- Paul Pogba
- Olivier Giroud
- Mathieu Valbuena
- Stade de France
- Loic Remy