France roll over 10-man Wales in friendly

Sports Desk, Jun 2 (EFE).- France cruised Wednesday to a 3-0 victory over Wales in a friendly that marked the return to Les Bleus of Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema after an absence of nearly six years.

The contest at Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice was one of four matches involving teams that qualified for Euro 2020, which gets under way on June 11.

England edged Austria 1-0, while Germany drew 1-1 with Denmark and the Netherlands and Scotland deadlocked 2-2.

Benzema, excluded from the national side since October 2015 over his alleged involvement in a sex-tape and blackmail scandal involving former international teammate Mathieu Valbuena, played well against Wales but had a penalty saved.

The match was still scoreless in the 25th minute when a VAR review led to a red card for Welsh defender Neco Williams because the ball made contact with his arm in front of goal.

While a penalty kick by Benzema would usually be a sure thing, Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward made a tremendous stop to spoil the striker’s return to international play.

Wales largely abandoned any thoughts of attacking after going down to 10 men and coach Rob Page pulled Gareth Bale for the last 30 minutes.

France’s goals came from Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele, who scored on the rebound in the 79th minute after a Benzema shot hit the post.

England’s Gareth Southgate included only three regular first-team players in the starting 11 for Wednesday’s game in Middlesbrough against Austria, while opting to rest those of his charges who played in last week’s Champions League (Manchester City vs. Chelsea) and Europa League (Manchester United vs. Villarreal) finals.

The Three Lions line-up included Jesse Lingard, one of the six players Southgate dropped to get down to his final 26-man roster for Euro 2020.

And once Bukayo Saka put England ahead in the 57th minute, Southgate gave consolation minutes to four other players who didn’t make the cut for the Euros: Ben Godfrey, Ben White, James Ward-Prowse and Ollie Watkins.

The coach may come to regret leaving Trent Alexander-Arnold in for the full 90 minutes, as the Liverpool defender suffered what appeared to a thigh injury toward the end of the match.

While Austria were away to England, Germany and Denmark faced off in Innsbruck, where Die Mannschaft dominated throughout yet were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw.

Florian Neuhaus gave Germany the lead early in the second half before Yussuf Poulsen made the most of Denmark’s only scoring opportunity with a goal in the 71st minute.

The Germans should have had more. Leroy Sane fired over the cross-bar in the 28th minute and Serge Gnabry hit the woodwork right before the half.

Scotland – missing seven players who tested positive for coronavirus – met the Netherlands in Faro, Portugal, and nearly came away with a win.

The Scots jumped out to a 1-0 advantage in the 10th minute on a goal by Jack Hendry. Memphis Depay answered for the Dutch seven minutes later.

Kevin Nisbet reclaimed the edge for Scotland in the 63rd minute and it took an equalizer by Depay in the 89th to salvage a draw for a Netherlands side clearly feeling the absence of defender Virgil van Dijk, who is skipping Euro 2020 to continue his recovery from the injury that sidelined him last October. EFE


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