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Home   /   France v Finland: AS IT HAPPENED

Good evening, welcome to this international friendly between France and Finland. Both managers will be expecting a positive performance as they prepare for their respective Nations League matches at the weekend.

Didier Deschamps is expected to name a much-changed line up which usually includes stars such as Kilian Mbappe and Antoine Greizmann.

Ross Bray reports.



1′ – Leo Dubois down the right has a throw which leads to his floated cross into the middle which is claimed by Jesse Joronen.

3′ – Joronen claims a through ball by Dubois aimed for Olivier Giroud.

4′ – Finland venturing forward for the first time as Rasmus Karjalainen fires a left-footed shot just inside the box but it blocked for a corner.

The resulting corner is a poor one and is clear comfortably.

6′ – Marcus Thuram drives up the pitch with Lucas Digne overlapping, whose floating ball is met by Giroud. But his header is miscued off target.

9′ – Misplaced pass by Moussa Sissoko allows Marcus Forss to charge at the France defence with a ball out to Niko Hämäläinen. His poor ball in is cleared comfortably.

10′ – France starting to pile on the pressure as Digne fires a low cross which finds Wissam Ben Yedder whose shot is blocked. Paul Pogba picks up the loose ball and whips a ball in but it is defended well again.

France looking on top so far, as expected.

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14′ – Digne linking up well with Thuram so far, as Thuram sends a ball in but is cleared for a corner.

So close from the resulting corner as Digne’s corner finds Thuram in the box and his header crashes against the crossbar. Giroud helps the rebound towards goal but is claimed by Joronen.

17′ – Golden Opportunity – Steven Nzonzi gets it out to Dubois down the right where he has had freedom so far this match. His fantastic cross finds Thuram, unmarked, in the box but blazes his effort over.

21′ – Great play again from France as Pogba and Ben Yedder link up on the left of the box. A one-two puts Pogba in space who looks for Giroud but it’s blocked for another corner.

The resulting corner is cleared out to Sissoko outside the box who hits a shot over.

23′ – Another effort by Thuram is skied but from further out than the first chance. Great feet by Pogba as he manoeuvres the ball out to Thuram at the left-hand side of the box.

Deschamps will be expecting a goal sooner rather than later with this much pressure piled on the Finland defence.

26′ – More link-up play between Thuram and Digne down the French left as Digne clips a cross into the middle which evades everyone apart from a charging Dubois. His control is poor as Joronen claims.

28′ – Goal – France 0 – 1 Finland (Forss)

Smash and grab by Finland! Poor play by Sissoko as he is robbed by the Finnish captain Rasmus Schuller and Forss collects the loose ball. He only had Clement Lenglet chasing him and his left foot shot evades Steve Mandanda and Finland are a goal up. Astonishing.

31′ – Goal – France 0 – 2 Finland (Onni Simonpoika Valakari)

What a strike and Finland are two up. Poor defending by the French again as Onni Valakari is allowed so much space at the edge of the box to smash it left-footed into the top left corner. Cracking goal on his first international cap.

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34′ – France looking for a way back into this game, with Digne bombing up the left again but seeing his low cross cleared. You would expect France to respond after two lacklustre goals conceded.

35′ – Close. France put the pressure on again as a looping ball to the near post is helped on by Giroud and finds Thuram inside the six-yard box but Leo Vaisanen blocks him from getting a shot off.

37′ – Finland breaking through France at ease again as Pogba is forced to concede a cynical foul 25 yards out.

Valakari takes the free-kick but it hits Nzonzi in the wall and is out for a corner.

The corner is a low one but is cleared by France.

43′ – France keeping the ball well as they look for an opening. Dubois finds himself in space and rolls it to Digne just outside the box but his effort is blocked.

45′ – Late corner in the half for France as Dubois whips it in but it is cleared again.

Half Time – France 0 – 2 Finland.

Fantastic half by Finland as they find themselves two up. France, however, will be rueing a mixture of missed chances and lacklustre defending. They have looked positive in their link-up play as both full-backs have darted forward, putting dangerous crosses in at will. However, Sissoko losing the ball let Finland in for their first clear cut chance which Forss buried fantastically. Valakari’s effort to make it two shortly after was one to remember, as Nzonzi allowed him the space to fire a left-footed shot from outside the box.

Deschamps will be expecting a response in the second half, potentially seeing the big hitters coming on. On the hand, Markku Kanerva will be screaming “more of the same” to his players with a win only 45 minutes away.

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Second Half

48′ – Foul by Kurt Zouma 25 yards out allows Valakari with a chance to fire a third. But he only hits the wall.

51′ – Dubois tries a through ball down the right to Giroud who runs onto it but is offside.

52′ – Digne down the left finds Pogba in space but his looping ball into the box does not reach anyone.

55′ – Corner for Finland sees Vaisanen’s weak header go straight into Mandanda’s grasp.

57′- Quality ball in again by Digne aiming for Giroud which goes just over him. This his last contribution of the night.

57′ – Triple substitution – Deschamps making drastic changes as N’Golo Kanté, Anthony Martial and Griezmann all come on for Pogba, Giroud and Ben Yedder.

59′ – France trying to work an opening as Thuram slips in Digne down the left again. His quick ball is miscontrolled by Martial and Sissoko latches onto it but skies his effort.

62′ – Close. France continuing to knock on the door as Sissoko is provider this time as his ball in is met by Nzonzi whose looping header is only just over.

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67′ – Triple Substitution – It is Finland’s turn to make a triple change to try to see out this lead. Glen Kamara, Joona Toivio and Nikolai Alho are on for Juhani Ojala, Ilamri Niskanen and Karjalainen.

69′ – Griezmann takes the free-kick out on the left into the middle. Again it is cleared well by Finland, something they have done consistently all game.

70′ – Digne gives it to Thuram down the left and cutting in his shot is straight into Joronen’s arms.

71′ – Substitution – Deschamps makes a straight swap as Ruben Aguilar is on for Dubois. Dubois has looked positive all game but none of his created chances have been put away.

75′ – Double substitution – Robert Taylor and Paulus Arajuuri replace Vaisanen and goal scorer Valakari for Finland.

79′ – Big chance – Great turn by Martial inside the box as he squares it to Kante who is running onto it but does not get clean contact and fires wide. Fires it with his shin rather than boot.

80′ – Substitution – Both teams making a change as Raphael Varane is on for Lenglet for France. Norwich striker Teemu Pukki is on for Finland, replacing Schuller.

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83′ – Foul by Kante as he loses possession in the middle of the park, time running out for France.

87′ – It has been attack versus defence for most of this half but it seems that Finland will see this through. A mixture of gallant defending from Finland and a lacklustre France performance has seen a relatively safe evening for Finland who will gain confidence from this.

90′ – Over – Kante plays it to Martial at the edge of the box and tries to manoeuvre the ball for a shot. Thuram gets in his way but Martial eventually fires a left-foot shot over.

Full Time – France 0 – 2 Finland.

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June 2024