Benzema double helps France see off Armenia

Nice (France), Oct 9 (IANS) A double from striker Karim Benzema helped France to an emphatic 4-0 win over Armenia in the 2016 Euro qualifiers.

The home side dominated possession from the outset and Armenia goalkeeper Gevorg Kasparov held France at bay when he reacted quickly to keep out a deflected Patrice Evra cross here on Thursday.

Lassana Diarra impressed with his energy and composure at the base of the France midfield on his return to the international fold after an absence of five years.

Armenia grew into the match with captain Henrikh Mkhitaryan invariably at the heart of things. The playmaker was involved in the visitors’ best chance, slipping the ball to Karlen Mkrtchyan, whose low cross was nearly turned in by Artem Simonyan.

Nice-born French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was cheered every time he intervened, frequently called into action as a sweeper-keeper as Armenia looked for space in behind the centre-halves.

Raising their game, France took the lead ten minutes before the break, striker Antoine Griezmann exchanging passes with Benzema before firing a right-footed shot through Kasparov’s legs for his first international goal in 11 months.

Ten minutes into the second half Yohan Cabaye’s terrific goal extended France’s advantage. After playing a glorious crossfield ball to Mathieu Valbuena, the midfielder continued his run.

Picked out at the edge of the box, he took one touch to control and with his second dispatched the ball into the bottom corner.

Benzema soared high to head in a Griezmann corner in the 78th minute and soon helped himself to a second, profiting from an astute deflection by substitute Anthony Martial to apply a confident finish.

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