UN­BEATEN RUN ENDS

Tech­nol­ogy lends a hand as Spain beat France

New Straits Times - - Sport -

SAINT-DE­NIS

SPAIN ended France’s seven-game un­beaten run as sub­sti­tutes David Silva and Ger­ard Deulofeu scored sec­ond-half goals to se­cure a 2-0 win over the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship run­ners-up in a friendly at the Stade de France on Tues­day.

It was France’s first loss since their 1-0 de­feat to Por­tu­gal at the same venue in the Euro 2016 fi­nal last sum­mer.

The match also saw the first use in France of video re­plays to help the ref­eree, with the tech­nol­ogy be­ing used to con­firm Deulofeu’s goal and to dis­al­low one for France’s An­toine Griez­mann just af­ter half­time.

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui’s sub­sti­tu­tions early in the sec­ond half proved de­ci­sive as Deulofeu won a penalty only 15 sec­onds af­ter com­ing onto the pitch in the 66th minute.

Deulofeu was ob­structed in the box by de­fender Lau­rent Ko­scielny and Silva sent keeper Hugo Lloris the wrong way to break the dead­lock.

Silva’s goal was a re­ward for a good spell of dom­i­nance from Spain that started af­ter Lopetegui re­placed An­dres Ini­esta and Isco with Thi­ago Al­can­tara and Silva in the 53rd minute.

Deulofeu then rounded off a fast coun­ter­at­tack with 13 min­utes left to make it 2-0 from an as­sist by Jordi Alba.

“The video helped giv­ing credit where credit was due,” Lopetegui said when asked about the im­pact on the video re­plays on the re­sult. “I want to praise my play­ers for their very good match, I’m happy with their at­ti­tude.”

France coach Di­dier Deschamps ac­knowl­edged Spain’s su­pe­ri­or­ity and said video tech­nol­ogy could be good for “fair­ness in sport.”

“For sure the re­sult would not have been the same,” Deschamps said. “Tonight it played against us. But we had been warned and the match can’t be summed up by this.”

With the French League Cup fi­nal be­tween Paris Saint-Ger­main and Monaco sched­uled on Satur­day, Deschamps ro­tated his team.

How­ever, he gave Monaco teenager Kylian Mbappe his first in­ter­na­tional start, three days af­ter the gifted striker made his de­but in a 3-1 win at Lux­em­bourg in a World Cup qual­i­fier. Mbappe showed his trade­mark speed and drib­bling skills, but could not pro­vide the nec­es­sary fin­ish dur­ing his 65-minute per­for­mance.

Deschamps also picked three Spain-based play­ers in his 4-3-3 for­ma­tion, with Atletico Madrid for­wards Griez­mann and Kevin Gameiro start­ing along­side Barcelona de­fender Sa­muel Umtiti.

Lopetegui reshuf­fled his at­tack af­ter a 4-1 win over Is­rael last week with Al­varo Mo­rata start­ing up front but kept the same back four of Ger­ard Pique, Ser­gio Ramos, Alba and Daniel Car­va­jal to con­tain the France strike force.

Af­ter a minute’s ap­plause in mem­ory of for­mer France and Real Madrid great Ray­mond Kopa, who died ear­lier this month aged 85, France im­me­di­ately cre­ated dan­ger down the left flank.

Gameiro com­bined well with Griez­mann and Layvin Kurzawa crossed the ball for Mbappe, who forced keeper David De Gea into a good save with a low shot.

France had an­other good chance in the 10th minute from a free-kick af­ter Ko­scielny lost his marker to con­nect with Griez­mann’s cross, but his header at the far post was cleared off the line by Pique.

France’s dom­i­nance did not last long, with the in­ex­pe­ri­enced mid­field pair­ing of Adrien Rabiot and Corentin Tolisso be­ing out­classed by their Span­ish coun­ter­parts.

Ini­esta got his team’s first chance when he curled a shot just wide from in­side the box in the 14th minute. He had an­other ef­fort on goal near the half-hour mark af­ter be­ing set up by Pe­dro, but France cap­tain Hugo Lloris — who equalled Fa­bien Barthez’s record of 87 caps for a France goal­keeper — thwarted his at­tempt.

Griez­mann thought he had put France ahead sec­onds af­ter the in­ter­val when he beat De Gea with a fine header, but the strike was ruled out for an off­side af­ter a quick re­view of the move by the video as­sis­tant ref­eree.

Tech­nol­ogy was in­volved again in the 77th minute to over­turn an in­cor­rect off­side call against Deulofeu af­ter his close-range fin­ish to make it 2-0.

Deulofeu was made to wait to cel­e­brate the goal but the cor­rect de­ci­sion was given.

“Deulofeu was de­ci­sive, if he keeps play­ing like this, he’s got a bright fu­ture in front of him,” Lopetegui said.

France’s next World Cup qual­i­fier is in June against Swe­den in Group A, which the French lead by three points. Level on points with Italy at the top of Group G, Spain travel to Mace­do­nia on June 11. AP

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