France wastes chances in 2-0 loss to Finland in friendly
SAINT-DENIS, France (AP) — Finland stunned World Cup winner France 2-0 in a friendly on Wednesday as the hosts were punished for missing a number of chances.
First-half goals from winger Marcus Forss and striker Onni Valakari gave the Finns an unexpected win, which had looked even more unlikely after France carved open the visiting defence early on.
Forward Marcus Thuram, the son of Lilian Thuram, could have made a scoring debut at Stade de France — where his father netted the only two goals of his long international career in the World Cup semifinal against Croatia in 1998.
Thuram almost scored with his first chance for France when he headed against the crossbar from close range in the 16th minute. Two minutes later, Thuram volleyed over another good opportunity from close range and tried his luck with a speculative curling shot a few minutes later.
With Thuram probing down the left and combining well with striker Wissam Ben Yedder, the French looked in total control only to concede twice in quick succession.
After midfielder Moussa Sissoko gave the ball away in the 28th, Forss charged into the penalty area and finished confidently with a driving shot. Three minutes later, the Valakari curled a shot past goalkeeper Steve Mandanda from the edge of the penalty area.
France had a lot of the possession in the second half yet created little until the latter stages.
Thuram tried his luck with a speculative shot from outside the area with 20 minutes left but it was easily saved, and then midfielder N’Golo Kante sliced well wide after being set up by Anthony Martial's neat flick.
Thuram was France's most dangerous player throughout and his cushioned touch allowed Martial a late shot which he blasted over. Then, in the last minute of injury time, striker Antoine Griezmann rolled a shot wide from Martial's pass on a sloppy night for France.
“We had a couple of chances from Marcus. If we had put them away it would have been a different story," Griezmann said. “But we need to figure out what we didn’t do well and look forward to Saturday.”
France has Nations League matches away to Portugal on Saturday and at home to Sweden next Tuesday, with Portugal leading France on goal difference in that group.
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