Remy winner sinks goalless US
Loic Remy came off the bench to score the winner as France beat the United States 1-0 in a friendly on Friday, extending its unbeaten run to 16 matches under coach Laurent Blanc.
The Marseille striker chased a long ball down the right and held off defender Clarence Goodson before beating goalkeeper Tim Howard with a clinical finish into the bottom left corner in the 72nd minute.
”It’s another win,” Blanc said. ”What pleased me was that the players really tried to play good football, even though they didn’t always succeed.”
Striker Karim Benzema and winger Jeremy Menez both squandered France’s other chances.
”I don’t think the attacking players made the right choices at times, otherwise we would have scored more,” Blanc said. ”We could have done much better, especially in the first half.”
Benzema hit the crossbar with a close-range header in the 55th minute after central defender Adil Rami had nodded on winger Franck Ribery’s corner. A minute later, Benzema forced Howard into an excellent reflex save from a curling free kick.
Blanc gave debuts to central defender Laurent Koscielny and leftback Jeremy Mathieu.
Jurgen Klinsmann handed Goodson a start in central defense in place of Oguchi Onyewu, but the rest of the lineup was unchanged from last month’s 1-0 loss to Ecuador.
Jozy Altidore made his presence felt with a heavy shoulder barge that sent midfielder Alou Diarra tumbling over early on, and midfielder Brek Shea clashed heads with Koscielny as they challenged for a high ball.
”They were a really physical team and stood up to us,” Blanc said. ”They did well in that domain.”
Klinsmann was pleased with his players, but felt they lacked composure at times.
”Here and there we were a little bit too hectic, that’s why we lost a couple of balls too many in the first half after we actually won them back,” Klinsmann said. ”Obviously it was difficult after their goal. In these types of games, you make one or two individual mistakes, you get punished.”
Despite showing commitment, Klinsmann’s team was pegged back for most of the first 20 minutes.
Benzema and Menez combined for some attractive passing moves, but the final pass was lacking.
”There were a lot of (mistakes) we could have cut out,” Remy said. ”But we’re on a good run and that’s good for confidence.”
With Samir Nasri out injured, and with both Marvin Martin and Yohan Cabaye on the bench, France was crying out for a playmaker as passes went astray.
”When you’re playing with four attackers, you need one of those to be a passer, and we didn’t have that in the first half,” Blanc said. ”The players who came on gave us that little bit extra.”
Frustration appeared to get the better of Benzema when he tried a long shot from wide left which sailed well over.
Searching for space to express himself, Benzema broke free down the left midway through the half and whipped in a dangerous cross that forced Howard off his line.
Winger Franck Ribery was largely kept quiet, unable to match his scintillating early-season form for Bayern Munich. When Ribery did finally dart to the front post to meet fullback Mathieu Debuchy’s cross from the right, his instinctive flick flashed past Howard’s post.
Menez then wasted a great chance when he caught right back Steve Cherundolo out of position – following a U.S. corner – and cut the ball back just behind Benzema.
Altidore mustered a half-chance for the U.S. in the 34th, but failed to connect well and dragged his low shot wide.
The game started to open up late in the first half as the Americans pushed forward, and Ribery started to get into the game. Following his cross from the left, Menez blazed just over from the penalty spot.
Benzema was France’s liveliest player but he should have done better in the 45th with only Howard to beat. Benzema decided against trying to lob the goalie, and then failed to poke the ball through his legs.
The U.S. enjoyed spells of possession early in the second half, but midfielder Kyle Beckerman and forward Clint Dempsey were hasty with long shots that bounced tamely into goalkeeper Hugo Lloris’ arms.
Howard, meanwhile, plunged to his left to keep out Benzema’s curling freekick from 25 yards in the 56th.
Moments later, Howard was a helpless onlooker as the ball cannoned around him in a frenetic goalmouth scramble.
Blanc took Gameiro and M’Vila off, handing debuts to Lyon holding midfielder Maxime Gonalons and Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud. Benzema and Ribery were replaced in the 65th, with Martin and Remy coming on.
Klinsmann gave Fabian Johnson his international debut in midfield, taking off Danny Williams.
Remy soon forced Howard into a smart save, then beat Howard on the next go, netting his fourth goal for France, and a carbon copy of his late goal against Romania in a 2012 European Championship qualifier last year.
”Whenever he comes on he seems to make a difference,” Benzema said. ”I hope he continues like this.”
Menez then smacked the ball wide in the last minute.
France: Hugo Lloris; Mathieu Debuchy, Adil Rami, Laurent Koscielny, Jeremy Mathieu; Alou Diarra, Yann M’Vila (Maxime Gonalons, 59); Jeremy Menez, Franck Ribery (Loic Remy, 65), Karim Benzema (Marvin Martin, 65), Kevin Gameiro (Olivier Giroud, 59).
United States: Tim Howard; Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Carlos Bocanegra, Timmy Chandler; Kyle Beckerman (Jermaine Jones, 66), Danny Williams (Fabian Johnson, 71), Maurice Edu (Edson Buddle, 76), Brek Shea (DaMarcus Beasley, 71); Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore.