France strike early to subdue Serbia
Friday, 01 June 2012 02:14

France continued to grow in confidence ahead of UEFA EURO 2012 as early goals from Franck Ribéry and Florent Malouda earned a third consecutive win in 2012.

Eleven days from their Group D opener against England in Donetsk, Laurent Blanc made seven changes to the team that struggled to beat Iceland on Sunday. The alterations proved successful as Ribéry opened the scoring in the 11th minute and by the quarter of an hour it was two as Malouda scored from distance.

France's positive outlook was tempered moments into the game when Yann M'Vila limped out of the contest with a twisted right ankle – the midfielder's tears on the bench did not augur well for his finals aspirations. The Stade Rennais FC anchorman's team-mates, however, continued about their business.

Gaël Clichy and Ribéry, neither of whom started against Iceland, made the first goal from the left. The FC Bayern München winger fed the Manchester City FC full-back, whose cross was parried by Željko Brkić into Ribéry's path and Slobodan Rajković's challenge could only deflect the ball into the roof of the net.

Siniša Mihajlović's side had no time to recover before Malouda benefited from Anthony Réveillère's tenacity to win the ball back, doubling France's advantage from distance by finding the top corner of Brkić's goal. The pace dropped in the second half with 45 minutes of few chances and a flurry of substitutions.

France will now set their sights on their third and final preparation match in Le Mans on 5 June against Estonia – a side Group D rivals Ukraine defeated 4-0 three days ago. "We're not ready yet," said Blanc. "The last 15 minutes were physically tough. The England game is still far away."

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