World Cup - Paraguay stun France with late equaliser

International friendly, Allianz Riviera - France 1 (Griezmann 83) Paraguay 1 (Caceres 89)

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World Cup - Paraguay stun France with late equaliser
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Paraguay's midfielder Victor Caceres (hidden) celebrates after scoring a goal against France (AFP)

Paraguay's Victor Caceres struck a late equaliser to deny France a pre-World Cup friendly victory in a 1-1 draw at the Allianz Riviera.

Super-sub Antoine Griezmann scored an 83rd minute goal to put France in the driving seat for a confidence-boosting victory over a Paraguay side they dominated from first to last.

But France defended a free kick poorly and allowed Caceres a free header to nod the ball past Hugo Lloris in the 89th minute.

France carved out the best chances in the first half with both Olivier Giroud and Loic Remy going close, the latter with a spectacular bicycle kick which flew just over the crossbar.

The home side continued to dominate the second period and could have added to their tally as their visitors struggled to get out of their own half.

Didier Deschamps will be pleased with the general performance as his side played with swagger and intensity but overall disappointed with the result which could knock their confidence going into the World Cup.

KEY MOMENTS

18’ – FIRST CHANCE FRANCE! – Koscielny knocks a long ball up to Giroud who nods the ball down six yards out for Remy who allows the ball to bounce up which means he can’t get his foot over the ball and the ball flies over the bar from close range.

32’ – SPECTACULAR STRIKE! – Remy tries an overhead kick which just goes over the crossbar after Giroud plucks the ball from over his shoulder and delivers an inch-perfect cross which his strike partner can’t convert.

52’ – PARAGUAY GO CLOSE! – Samundo wraps his foot around a free kick which Lloris has to get two strong fists behind to push wide of the goal.

83’ – DEADLOCK BROKEN! – Paraguay fail to clear a corner when Griezmann takes one touch from a Koscielny lay-off before bending it into the right corner from just inside the penalty area.

89’ – SHOCK EQUALISER! – France play a high line from a deep free-kick which allows the ball to be dropped onto the head of Caceres just eight yards out who makes no mistake and nods the ball on past a scrambling Lloris.

KEY STATS

France remain unbeaten against Paraguay in their four meetings, though their last two games have now ended in draws.

Griezmann has scored his first ever international goal after making just three appearances for Les Bleus.

Valbuena has played in all of Didier Deschamps’ 21 games in charge of France.

TALKING POINT

Do France have the strength in depth to win the World Cup? Although substitute Antoine Griezmann got their goal, it was second choice forwards Giroud and Remy who started the match. They played well and linked up effectively but couldn’t finish past a ragged Paraguay defence. Against better opposition they might not have had a sniff.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Olivier Giroud, FranceHe was imperious up front for France, holding the ball up well and showing some beautiful touches to lay in teammates. The only thing missing was a goal.

PLAYER RATINGS

France – Lloris 7, Sagna 8, Sakho 7, Koscielny 7, Evra 7, Pogba 7, Cabaye 6, Matuidi 6, Valbuena 7, Rémy 7, Giroud 9. Subs: Mavuba 7, Mangala 7, Sissokho 6, Grenier 6, Griezmann 8.

Paraguay – Silva 8; Cardozo 7, Ortiz 8, Alonso 7, Coronel 7, Caceres 8, Oviedo 7, Samundo 7, Mendieta 7, Romero 7, Santa Cruz 6. Subs: Rojas 7, Benitez 6, Orue 6, Gonzalez 7.

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