Mbappe scores twice as France beats Russia 3-1 in friendly

ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 28, 2018 08:57 AM
Mbappe scores twice as France beats Russia 3-1 in friendly
France's Kylian Mbappe, center, celebrates scoring the opening goal during the international friendly soccer match between Russia and France at the Saint Petersburg stadium in St.Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, March 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Kylian Mbappe scored twice as France beat World Cup host Russia 3-1 in a friendly on Tuesday.

The French visitors dominated a Russian team weakened by injuries and Mbappe scored the opener in the 40th minute, leaving defender Roman Neustaedter stranded before shooting calmly past Andrei Lunyov in the Russian goal.

Pogba curled a free kick over the wall and into the bottom-left corner for France's second in the 49th.

Russia hit back in the 68th when Fyodor Smolov tapped home a deep cross from substitute right-back Igor Smolnikov — a rare moment of class from Russia — but Mbappe scored again 15 minutes later to illustrate the gulf between the teams.

Again dribbling past the hapless Neustaedter, the Paris Saint-Germain forward knocked the ball through goalkeeper Lunyov's legs.

For the French, it was a welcome recovery after last week's 3-2 loss to Colombia, which ended their seven-game winning run.

The French could have scored more, particularly Anthony Martial, who failed to convert good chances in the first half, while defender Vladimir Granat missed an open goal for Russia at a corner.

Playing in black armbands to mourn the 64 people killed in a fire Sunday in the Siberian city of Kemerovo, Russia continued to struggle ahead of the World Cup.

Since the start of 2016, the Russians have played 13 times against teams who will be at the World Cup this summer. They won just once, against South Korea, drew five games and lost seven.

With two and a half months until Russia opens the World Cup against Saudi Arabia in Moscow, the team has not won any of its last five games. It has taken a series of injury blows this year, with defenders Georgy Dzhikiya and Viktor Vasin, as well as forward Alexander Kokorin, all unlikely to return in time for the World Cup.

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