France bounced back from Friday’s surprise loss to Colombia as they beat World Cup hosts Russia 3-1 in Saint Petersburg.
Les Bleus coach Didier Deschamps rang in the changes, with seven new players introduced into the starting XI and the trio of Anthony Martial, Ousmane Dembele and Kylian Mbappe starting together. Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, recalled from the bench, set up Mbappe for the first on 40 minutes. He was again on hand to make it 2-0 shortly after half time, curling in a wonderful free kick.
Russian striker Fyodor Smolov, a winter transfer window target for struggling West Ham, pulled one back midway through the second half, but Mbappe put the result beyond doubt with his second of the game seven minutes from time.
Russia, who had lost 3-0 to Brail a few days ago, are now without a win in their last seven games- worrying for the hosts given that the World Cup is less than two months ago.
On a disappointing note, there was racist abuse allegedly directed towards Dembele and Pogba, with world football’s governing body FIFA set to look into the matter.
Russia 1 (Smolov) lost to France 3 (Mbappe two goals, Pogba)