France beat Russia 4-2 in football friendly

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.

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