France survives Germany’s late surge

France extended its unbeaten run to 18 matches and issued a statement before the European Championship by beating Germany 2-1 in a friendly on Wednesday.

Both sides were missing key players, but France showed greater imagination in a match that failed to reach the intensity of previous meetings between the two great rivals.

Oliver Giroud, the top scorer in the French league, put the visitors ahead in the 21st minute with a simple finish. Florent Malouda effectively sealed the win in the 69th, seven minutes after coming on as substitute.

Another substitute, Cacau, scored an injury-time consolation for Germany, which is considered one of the favorites for Euro 2012 after having won all 10 qualifying games.

France, which had to endure a playoff to qualify for the tournament, has not been beaten since a 1-0 loss to Belarus on September 3, 2010.

”It’s annoying when you lose a game. It annoys me, how we lost,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. ”France were superior over the course of the game, so in that respect it’s fair enough.”

Tim Wiese was also in goal for Germany’s last defeat, a 2-1 loss to Australia, and so continues his unfortunate record of never having won with his country in six appearances.

The 30-year-old Werder Bremen goalkeeper was called into action in the first minute, getting down low to cut out Samir Nasri’s ball for Giroud.

Miroslav Klose almost put Mesut Oezil through early on, only to play the ball just ahead of the Real Madrid midfielder, who had initially combined brilliantly with club teammate Sami Khedira to create the chance.

The visitors gradually came into the game and almost claimed the lead in the 16th, when Wiese blocked Yohan Cabaye’s powerful header on the line.

Giroud, the scorer of 16 goals so far this season in the French league, made no mistake from a central position after Mathieu Debuchy had easily cut in past Dennis Aogo on the left before squaring the ball for the Montpellier striker.

”I think we’re going to have to work on the defense, with regard to the European Championship,” Loew said.

Borussia Moenchengladbach winger Marco Reus nearly set up the equalizer for Khedira in the 30th, and then sent in a dangerous cross that was dealt with by the French defense.

Klose, in his 114th appearance for Germany, was denied by a great save from France captain Hugo Lloris in the 33rd, before Germany defender Holger Badstuber hit the post when the ball was sent back in from the resulting corner.

Lloris denied Klose again after Oezil had cut the ball back for the Lazio striker, and there was still time before the interval for Oezil to turn brilliantly inside a French defender before flashing a shot to the right of the post.

Oezil might have pulled Germany level midway through the second half but for Yann M’Vila, who made it back with a crucial tackle, before Reus shot straight at Lloris.

Oezil was next to test the France goalkeeper, whose side appeared content to play on the break.

Mathieu Valbuena twice came close for France, before Malouda finally scored the decisive goal. The ball fell kindly for the Chelsea midfielder to finish from close range after Giroud failed to connect properly with Debuchy’s cross.

France substitute Louis Saha had a goal ruled out for offside in the 82nd, and Cacau provided some excitement at the end after reaching Thomas Mueller’s cross.

Germany: Tim Wiese, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Holger Badstuber (Benedikt Hoewedes, 46), Dennis Aogo, Sami Khedira (Lars Bender, 70), Toni Kroos, Marco Reus (Cacau, 70), Mesut Oezil, Andre Schuerrle (Thomas Mueller, 45), Miroslav Klose (Miroslav Klose, 46).

France: Hugo Lloris, Eric Abidal, Mathieu Debuchy, Philippe Mexes, Adil Rami, Yohan Cabaye (Alou Diarra, 62), Yann M’Vila (Florent Malouda, 62), Samir Nasri, Olivier Giroud (Louis Saha, 76), Franck Ribery (Jeremy Menez, 46), Mathieu Valbuena (Morgan Amalfitano, 68).