Griezmann, Dembele score as France stroll past Italy

Antoine Griezmann scored from the spot as France beat Italy 3-1 in Nice

Antoine Griezmann scored from the spot as France beat Italy 3-1 in Nice

Samuel Umtiti, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele scored as France continued their impressive build up to the World Cup with a comfortable victory over Italy in Nice.

Umtiti set the hosts on their way after Kylian Mbappe’s effort was parried by the Italian goalkeeper, Salvatore Sirigu.

The French doubled their lead when Griezmann converted a penalty after Lucas Hernandez had been fouled.

Leonardo Bonucci reduced the arrears for Italy but Dembele’s chip rounded off a fine French display.

France beat the Republic of Ireland 2-0 on Monday.

Useful exercise for Deschamps

France have now won five and drawn one of the six games played between the two nations since Italy – who have failed to qualify for Russia – defeated them on penalties to win the World Cup final in 2006.

While this was far from the level of that high stakes encounter in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, it did nevertheless prove a worthwhile exercise for France manager Didier Deschamps.

With seven changes from the team that defeated the Republic of Ireland, Deschamps appeared to utilise the midfield and forward combinations to be deployed in France’s World Cup opener against Australia on 16 June.

Mbappe in particular sparkled in a fluent up-tempo display alongside Dembele and Griezmann and was given a standing ovation when he was replaced by Florian Thauvin late on.

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The pace, power and guile of that trio often left the Italian defence bewildered and the margin of victory might have been wider, with Dembele and N’Golo Kante both hitting the woodwork for France.

Deschamps’ side play their final pre-tournament friendly against the United States on 9 June before facing Australia in their World Cup opener a week later.

Les Blues also face Peru on 21 June and Denmark on 26 June in Group C.

‘If we continue like this we will be at their level’

Italy’s new head coach Roberto Mancini celebrated a 2-1 victory in his first game against Saudi Arabia on Monday but this was a step up in class for his team.

The four-time World Cup winners are not at the finals for the first time in 60 years, and the deficiencies behind that absence were exposed by France.

However, Mancini, who has brought Mario Balotelli back after a four-year international hiatus, believes his team can reach an equal footing within 12 months.

“This can help to gain experience,” he said.

“Nobody likes to lose, ever, but there were moments where we had the chances to make it 2-2.

“At this moment, unfortunately, France are superior to us and have so many players available to them. We must work and learn to get close to them, but we’re on the right track.

“Perhaps the most important thing is that the debutants did well and if we continue like this, in a year we’ll be at their level, or close to it.”

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