Karim Benzema said he was happy with his performance despite a missed penalty as he made his first France appearance in almost six years in Wednesday’s 3-0 Euro 2020 friendly win over Wales in Nice.
Benzema had been left out of Didier Deschamps’ squad since October 2015 due to his alleged role in a blackmail plot.
Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele were on the scoresheet for the World Cup winners against the Euro 2016 semi-finalists, who had Neco Williams sent off for handling the ball in his area.
“I felt good throughout the match. It’s a good omen for what’s to come. The key is to create chances, win and do better the next time to score more goals,” Benzema told television channel TF1.
“I felt a lot of pride and joy in wearing the shirt again. I wanted to play and to show what I can do tonight on the field,” he added.
Deschamps handed goalkeeper Hugo Lloris his 100th start as captain but midfielder N’Golo Kante was rested after winning the Champions League with Chelsea on Saturday.
Deschamps’ counterpart Robert Page, standing in for regular boss Ryan Giggs as the former Manchester United winger faces charges of assault, kept Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey on the bench having last played in Serie A in April.
Benzema, who had scored twice against Armenia at the Allianz Riviera on his last international appearance, forced a save from Danny Ward after four minutes.
His 82nd cap took a turn for the worse after 22 minutes despite his shot that resulted in Liverpool defender Williams’ red card and a penalty.
The Real Madrid forward stepped up but Ward saved the spot-kick superbly low to his right.
Les Bleus stepped up the pressure with an extra man and broke the deadlock 10 minutes before the break.
Adrien Rabiot’s shot from outside the box was pushed away by Ward but Mbappe poked home the volley for the opener.
Griezmann doubled the lead three minutes into the second half with a curled effort past a fully-stretched Ward.
Dembele claimed his side’s third goal – and just his fourth for his country – with 11 minutes left after Benzema’s shot fired back off the post.
France face Bulgaria on Tuesday before opening their Euro 2020 campaign by playing Germany in Munich on June 15.
Wales host Albania on Saturday before heading to Baku to play Switzerland on June 12.
Alexander-Arnold injured in England win
Trent Alexander-Arnold could miss Euro 2020 after the England defender suffered a thigh injury in Wednesday’s 1-0 friendly win against Austria.
Liverpool right-back Alexander-Arnold limped off late in the second half after injuring himself while clearing the ball.
The 22-year-old looked emotional as he needed assistance to hobble around the Riverside Stadium pitch.
Southgate admitted he was concerned over Alexander-Arnold’s chances of making the tournament as he awaited tests over the next 24 hours.
“We’re going to have a look. Clearly it’s not a good sign to see him come off in the way he did,” Southgate said.
“We’ll have to assess him. I think it’s a thigh but the medical team are assessing him.
“It’s not a good sign to see him have to walk off as he did. We’ll know more in 24 to 48 hours.
“We don’t know the full extent. The last thing you want is to see him come off in the way he did.”
Alexander-Arnold, who finished the season in fine form, is one of four right-backs in the England squad after being selected despite reports he would be left out.
Kieran Trippier, another of the right-backs, was used at left-back against Austria, while Reece James and Kyle Walker would also be in contention to start if Alexander-Arnold is ruled out.
Unable to call on players from Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United following their European finals, Southgate sent out an experimental team.
It was Bukayo Saka who staked a claim for a place in the starting line-up for their tournament opener against Croatia at Wembley on June 13.
The 19-year-old Arsenal winger was a lively presence on the left flank and capped his eye-catching display with a composed second half finish for his first England goal.
“It’s an amazing feeling for me, probably the biggest moment of my career,” Saka said.
England complete their pre-tournament preparations with a friendly against Romania back in Middlesbrough on Sunday.
Aside from his selection issues, Southgate will be alarmed that a section of the 8,000 crowd loudly booed the England players when they took a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement before kick-off.
“I did hear it. It’s not something on behalf of our black players that I wanted to hear, because it feels like a criticism of them,” Southgate said.
“Some people think it is a political gesture that they don’t agree with, but that is not the case. I was pleased it was drowned out with applause.”
Alexander-Arnold had started brightly as he surged onto Harry Kane’s raking pass and forced Daniel Bachmann to tip over his fierce drive.
England lacked a cutting edge in the first half but they carved open the Austrians to take the lead in the 57th minute.
Kane’s pass picked out Jesse Lingard just inside the Austria area and his attempt to find Jack Grealish was diverted to Saka, who had the simple task of slotting into the empty net from close range.
Like Lingard, Ben Godfrey was one of six players left out of England’s final 26-man squad when it was announced on Tuesday.
But Godfrey still came on for his debut and was immediately rescued by his Everton team-mate Jordan Pickford when the England keeper scrambled to kick the defender’s woeful backpass off the line.
Southgate had challenged Lingard to “show me I’m wrong”, but the Manchester United forward was unable to replicate the fine form he showed on loan at West Ham.
Grealish was more impressive as the Villa midfielder offered flashes of his playmaking quality.
“Jack showed some lovely touches. You can see he’s still getting to full fitness, with the bursts you know he can make. He’s a quality player,” Southgate said of Grealish.
Hummels, Mueller end Germany exile in friendly draw with Denmark
Mats Hummels and Thomas Mueller made their return to international football after a two-year exile on Wednesday as Germany were held to a 1-1 draw by Denmark in a friendly ahead of Euro 2020.
Borussia Moenchengladbach midfielder Florian Neuhaus gave the Germans a second-half lead in Innsbruck.
RB Leipzig forward Yussuf Poulsen equalised for Denmark after a superb pass from Inter Milan playmaker Christian Eriksen.
Hummels’ return helped tighten the German defence which had leaked 18 goals in their previous 11 internationals, but the Dortmund defender was unable to stop Poulsen equalising.
“It was a mixed team performance,” said head coach Joachim Loew.
“We defended well, better than in previous matches, but we made life difficult for ourselves.
“It was a little bit of carelessness that led to Denmark’s goal.”
In the build-up, Danish coach Kasper Hjulmand claimed Germany have the “potential” to win this year’s European Championship.
However this was a solid, rather than spectacular display by the Germans, who play world champions France in Munich on June 15, then face holders Portugal four days later in Group F.
The Germans were without a quartet of Premier League stars.
Chelsea’s Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Antonio Ruediger, as well as Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, were rested after Saturday’s Champions League final.
Germany had the best chance of a goalless first half when Bayern Munich winger Serge Gnabry hit the crossbar with a long-range shot a minute before the interval.
Mueller makes mark
Mueller was at the heart of the move which put the Germans ahead just after the break when Atalanta left-back Robin Gosens whipped in a cross which Neuhaus stabbed home.
Denmark needed more than an hour to create a shot on goal, but Eriksen made it count with a magnificent pass to split the German defence.
Poulsen sprinted onto the ball in the area and evaded Hummels’ lunging tackle to fire the equaliser past Manuel Neuer on 71 minutes.
The Germans hit the woodwork for the second time when Joshua Kimmich went close with 13 minutes left.
The Danes had a late appeal for a penalty turned down when Poulsen’s replacement Mikkel Damsgaard went down in the area.
Despite having last played international football in November 2018, both Mueller and Hummels looked assured.
Hummels was solid at the heart of a three-man defence with Mueller leading the attack alongside Bayern team-mates Leroy Sane and Gnabry.
“We were quite strong in attack, but in the end the result is frustrating. We hit the woodwork twice and could have had a bit more luck,” said Mueller.
Loew had made the decision to drop Mueller and Hummels from the national side in March 2019, following the team’s group stage exit at the World Cup in Russia.
Loew, who steps down later this summer after 15 years in charge, has recalled the experienced pair for Euro 2020.
Germany play a final pre-tournament friendly against Latvia on Monday.
Denmark have a final friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Sunday before their opening Euro 2020 game against Finland on June 12
Germany 1 (Neuhaus 48) Denmark 1 (Poulsen 71)
Netherlands 2 (Depay 17, 89) Scotland 2 (Hendry 10, Nisbet 63)
England 1 (Saka 56) Austria 0
France 3 (Mbappe 34, Griezmann 48, Dembele 79) Wales 0
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