Paris, March 30 (IANS) France returned to the Stade de France in a thrilling way as N’Golo Kante’s first international goal and a Dimitri Payet stunner helped the Euro 2016 hosts win 4-2 over Russia in a football friendly match.
Just eight minutes into the game here on Tuesday, French debutant Kante, celebrating his 25th birthday, got the hosts off to a fine start with a close range low shot after being set up by Antoine Griezmann, reports Xinhua news agency.
Andre-Pierre Gignac made it 2-0 in the 38th minute with a diving header at the near post through Griezmann’s free-kick after Aleksandr Kokorin was booked for a dangerous tackle on Patrice Evra.
Russia pulled a goal back after the interval as Kokorin jumped high to connect with a free-kick from Alan Dzagoev and head home past Hugo Lloris on 54 minutes.
Another birthday boy of the day, Payet then scored a sumptuous 30-meter free kick after coming on the pitch as a substitute for just one minute.
Yuri Zhirkov hit back four minutes later, slotting home from Oleg Shatov’s pass, before Kinglsey Coman wrapped the game up with a clever finish 14 minutes from time.
It was the very first football match to be held at the Stade de France since the November terror attack in Paris, and a minute’s silence was held in memory of the victims of last week’s Brussels bombings.
French President Francois Hollande, who said the same day that postponing or cancelling Euro 2016 was “never a question”, watched the friendly, despite fears following the Paris and Brussels attacks.
England go down to Netherlands 1-2 in football friendly
London, March 30 (IANS) Striker Jamie Vardy scored on his first start but England fell to a 1-2 defeat against the Netherlands in a football friendly match.
The Dutch failed to qualify for the Euro 2016 finals and came to this match with a line-up short of the stellar players who finished third at the 2014 World Cup.
But they equalised from the penalty spot through Vincent Janssen, and went ahead with a disputed second through Luciano Narsingh here on Tuesday.
The Netherlands had the first chance, with Stoke City’s Ibrahim Affelay, one of four England-based players in the visiting starting XI, having a stern shot spilled and then gathered by Fraser Forster.
Vardy responded by firing over, then Ross Barkley showed his blend of power and skill to spin off Riechedly Bazoer and drill a shot narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
Even so, Vardy’s opener came as a pleasant surprise to the home fans at the Wembley stadium.
Vardy finished his shot from inside the box high into the net. Netherlands looked a better side after the break, and within four minutes were level.
England defender John Stones slipped in possession and Holland’s Vincent Janssen picked up the loose ball before working Forster from close range. Then from the resulting melee Danny Rose was adjudged to have handballed a Narsingh cross.
Janssen’s top-corner penalty restored the parity.
Janssen appeared to barge into Phil Jagielka before taking a touch into the six-yard box, cutting back for Narsingh to tap home at the far post amid protests from England.