France lose to Colombia after wasting 2-0 lead

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(Olivier Giroud 11, Thomas Lemar 26) (Luis Muriel 28, Radamel Falcao 62, Juan Quintero 85-pen)

France threw away a two-goal lead as they slumped to a 3-2 home defeat by Colombia in a friendly at the Stade de France on Saturday morning (March 24, Singapore time), less than three months before the World Cup.

Les Bleus were 2-0 up midway through the first half thanks to goals by Olivier Giroud and Thomas Lemar, but Luis Muriel halved the deficit before the break with Radamel Falcao and Juan Quintero scoring in the second half.

Before kick-off, there was a minute’s silence in memory of the three people who were killed in south-western France by a gunman who held up a car, fired on police and seized hostages in a supermarket earlier in the day.

France started with N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi as holding midfielders, Paul Pogba being left on the bench because of a muscle problem and a lack of playing time at Manchester United, according to assistant coach Guy Stephan.

Pogba, however, came on as a second-half substitute but had little impact.

Les Bleus enjoyed most of the possession and they were rewarded in the 11th minute when Giroud scored his 30th international goal as he knocked the ball in after David Ospina mishandled Lucas Digne’s cross from the left.

It was Giroud’s ninth goal in the last nine games he started for France.

Lemar made it 2-0 in the 26th from inside the box after being set up by his former Monaco teammate Kylian Mbappe, who had collected a fine back heel by Antoine Griezmann.

But France lacked focus and two minutes later, Hugo Lloris misjudged Muriel’s cross, which found the back of the net at the far post.

The visitors were more active in the second half and Falcao beat Lloris in the 62nd minute as he latched onto a cross from James Rodriguez.

Colombia sealed the win five minutes from time when Quintero converted a penalty after a Samuel Umtiti foul in the box.

“My team showed World Cup character,” beamed Colombia coach Jose Pekerman, whose side will face Poland, Senegal and Japan in Group H of the World Cup.

“It’s very important for this preparation for Russia.”

France coach Didier Deschamps admitted the visitors had shown greater desire.

“The Colombians gave us a lesson in aggressiveness, whereas we were too quick to settle for what we had,” he told TMC television.

“The top level is demanding and we didn’t respond in the second half.”

France will be up against Australia, Peru and Denmark in Group C in Russia

They next face World Cup hosts Russia in St Petersburg on Wednesday morning (Singapore time), while Colombia take on Australia.