France are Euro 2016 favourites, says Gary Lim
Euro 2016 hosts fire warning after impressive win over Dutch
(Luuk de Jong 47, Ibrahim Afellay 86)
(Antoine Griezmann 6, Olivier Giroud 13, Blaise Matuidi 87)
At an arena where Holland paid a moving tribute to their greatest player, it was the French who stole the football show.
Perhaps the rest of the football world would have wanted a home win in the circumstances, but Didier Deschamps and Co. stayed focused yesterday morning (Singapore time), hustling the Dutch into a back alley to snatch a 3-2 victory.
The minute's applause for the late Johan Cruyff from the 50,000 fans inside the Amsterdam ArenA in the 14th minute, when play was temporarily halted, provided the game's poignant moment - but it couldn't stop France from delivering their own message.
Euro 2016 is three months away, and they are beginning to look like the real deal.
They have their guns cocked and locked.
They are chomping at the bit for the chance to showcase their talent in front of their own fans.
Whoever stand in their way must be prepared for a fight from start to finish.
Even in the absence of stars like Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery, the French demonstrated an abundance of flair and creativity.
As one would expect of a Deschamps side, there were also cohesion and grit.
The pieces are falling into place at the right time.
This might be a friendly, but France treated it far more seriously.
They had to.
The players are battling among themselves in a supremely talented pool for a place in the final squad.
And Deschamps needs them to regularly produce such intensity during their warm-up matches to negate a lack of competitive action since elimination at the quarter-final stage of the 2014 World Cup Finals.
Setting a blistering first-half tempo, they were 2-0 up within 13 minutes.
Antoine Griezmann's superb free-kick and Olivier Giroud's volley on the turn raised the prospect of many red faces in an orange-clad crowd.
The trio of Lassana Diarra, Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi performed the midfield choke-hold which rendered the hosts' attack impotent.
Up front, West Ham's Dimitri Payet carried his club form onto the international stage with a dazzling performance that outshone even scorers and attacking partners Giroud and Griezmann.
If there is work to be done, it is in defence where France have a tendency to go to sleep.
Luuk de Jong's "headed goal" came off his hand, actually, but the visitors could not escape culpability for Holland's second goal, when Memphis Depay simply stroked a corner-kick to the edge of the box for a completely unmarked Ibrahim Afellay to hammer home in the 86th minute.
Alas, Holland lacked the durability and determination to complete the task, leaving it to France to show them how to push for a win at the death.
When it was time to show resolve, Les Bleus' willpower shone through.
Payet somehow managed to retain the ball in Holland's half, before passing the ball to Anthony Martial, who set up the outstanding Matuidi for the winning goal.
The accomplished display wouldn't have gone unnoticed by their Euro 2016 rivals, and France's quality on the bench would also have raised eyebrows.
Martial and N'Golo Kante had to be satisfied with substitute appearances, while Hugo Lloris, Bacary Sagna and Kingsley Coman never left the dug-out.
On top of that, there is still a chance Benzema and their football federation can resolve the tricky issue arising from his blackmail allegations, while there is also talk of Ribery coming out of international retirement.
France may be on the cusp of a brilliant summer.
It was important to win. We want to prepare for the Euros and for that, you have to win all matches.
- France forward Antoine Griezmann
'Payet has enormous qualities'
Dimitri Payet received a resounding vote of approval from France coach Didier Deschamps, after the midfielder made an impressive return to international football with a starring role in the 3-2 win over Holland in Amsterdam yesterday morning (Singapore time).
"He confirmed with us what he has been doing with his club," said Deschamps (below) of Payet's (above) form with West Ham United.
"Every time he touched the ball, he made something happen.
"He has enormous qualities and made a massive effort. He is on top form."
Payet last played for France in June last year against Albania, but forced a return to the side after starring roles for his London club and was preferred yesterday to Anthony Martial in the French starting line-up.
He revelled in an attacking midfield role, forcing the first save of the match from Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen after only four minutes.
On the hour mark, his strong run from the middle and subsequent shot struck the base of the post.
The 29-year-old Payet, who has 16 caps, is now a strong candidate for a place in the French squad for the European Championship in June.
Deschamps was also pleased with the offensive prowess of his side.
"There were some very good things," he said.
"Our attacking trio created a lot of problems for the Dutch defence.
"After a long break of five months, we did some good things and got the win."
However, Deschamps rued his team losing their two-goal half-time lead, with captain Blaise Matuidi's winner coming with only three minutes remaining.
"The first Dutch goal (by Luuk de Jong) was scored with a hand, but we lacked concentration on the second goal and we must avoid that," he added.
"We went out and played a very good first half, but the second was worse.
"We ended up snatching victory and the scenario was favourable to us, but we must be more focused.
"We controlled the match and it could still have ended 2-2.
"We had seven or eight chances and must be able to manage the game better than that." - Wire Services.