A hat-trick from Olivier Giroud featured as France ran out 5-0 winners over Paraguay in their international friendly in Rennes a week ahead of Les Bleus' World Cup 2018 qualifying clash in Sweden.
Friday, June 2, 2017
Roazhon Park, Rennes
France 5 - 0 Paraguay
There was no ring rust from the Euro 2016 finalists as they got back into action after a two-month break, and no signs of fatigue after an intense season as Didier Deschamps' men struck early and often to dismantle Paraguay in preparation for their World Cup 2018 qualifier against Sweden in a week's time.
Giroud on fire
Group A leaders France can put nearest rivals Sweden six points adrift with a win on Friday night, and they certainly looked the goods in Rennes with an on-fire Olivier Giroud setting the tone early as he volleyed home Ousmane Dembélé's low cross (6').
Seven minutes later, the Arsenal man fired Dimitri Payet's cross home with a diving header (13') to cap an ultra-dominant first 5 minutes for the hosts. Dembélé and Antoine Griezmann used their skill and pace to cause all sorts of problems for Francisco Arce's men, but once again it was Giroud who provided the cutting edge. Following a fine combination from half-time substitutes Lucas Digne and Thomas Lemar, Giroud beat his man to the ball and slotted sharply past Antony Silva to complete his hat-trick (69').
Les Bleus afforded Paraguay precious few opportunities - an awry Laurent Koscielny tackle in midfield handed the South Americans their best chance of the match, which Juan Iturbe fired over (11') - and it was largely one-way traffic. Substitute Alexandre Lacazette broke to set up Moussa Sissoko for a simple tap-in before Griezmann rounded out the scoring after Silva's fumble fell to him in front of an open goal (77').
THE PLAYER: Olivier Giroud
Giroud may have had his ups and downs for club Arsenal but his form for France has been nothing short of stunning, with this performance taking his scoring record to 16 goals in his last 16 France appearances.
Lacazette may have had an impressive 28-goal season with Olympique Lyonnais - doubtless what prompted his re-call after a year's absence from the France ranks - but it will be hard for him to dislodge a Giroud who is proving to be his country's most consistent striker in some time.
THE STAT: 17
When Giroud hit his third goal in the 69th minute, he put an end to a 17-year wait for France fans to see one of their own bag a hat-trick. The last time a Frenchman scored three for his country in one game was all the way back in 2000, when a certain David Trezeguet shone in a 5-1 friendly win against a FIFA XI in Marseille.