Soccer

Giroud scores twice as France beats Norway in friendly

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The Canadian Press
5/27/2014 6:17:28 PM
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PARIS -- Striker Olivier Giroud scored twice and winger Mathieu Valbuena set up three goals as France began its World Cup preparation in fine style with a 4-0 win against Norway on Tuesday.

Paul Pogba headed France into the lead in the 15th minute and, after France's performance had dropped in intensity, Giroud got things going early in the second half with an expertly-taken goal. Substitute Loic Remy scored shortly after he coming on, and Giroud rounded off a good night for coach Didier Deschamps' team with a glancing header.

France plays Paraguay on Sunday and then takes on Jamaica in its final friendly match on June 8 before heading to Brazil.

"We played with a lot of intensity and determination, which is very positive," Deschamps said. "We're not ready (for the World Cup) yet, but you can sense that there is a collective determination in this side."

Les Bleus have been drawn in Group E and will face Ecuador, Honduras and Switzerland.

"It's about getting players used to our system, players who may play in a slightly different way for their clubs," Deschamps said, looking ahead to the next two matches.

Deschamps rested striker Karim Benzema, winger Franck Ribery and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, with Stephane Ruffier making his second appearance in goal for France.

Norway goalkeeper Orjan Haskjold Nyland was busy from the start.

He tipped over Antoine Griezmann's header from Valbuena's freekick and then made a brilliant point-blank stop from Giroud's header from the resulting corner. Griezmann's glancing header flew past him --and the post -- moments later.

The fourth headed chance went in, however, as Pogba arched backward to guide in Valbuena's cross from the left.

Griezmann looked lively and almost created a goal for Giroud near the end of the first half, cutting the ball back a fraction behind the Arsenal forward, and Ruffier kept out an effort from right back Tom Hogli as Norway went close in the 43rd with a race chance.

Giroud made it 2-0 in the 51st, taking down a high ball from Valbuena and cutting inside defender Martin Linnes in one smooth movement before flicking a rising shot into the top corner.

France's third goal saw right back Mathieu Debuchy releasing his Newcastle teammate Remy with a defence-splitting pass, and Remy giving Nyland no chance with a confident low finish in the 67th.

Two minutes later, Giroud headed in Valbuena's floating cross from the left for his seventh international goal.

"Valbuena has been very good for us over the past two years," Deschamps said. "He plays with a smile on his face."

France could have scored more, but Nyland denied Remy three times.

Paul Pogba Olivier Giroud (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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