14 October 2014 19:57
Five years since the day of his last France goal, Andre-Pierre Gignac found the net as Didier Deschamps’ men beat Armenia 3-0 on Tuesday.
The Marseille striker, making his first international start since France’s elimination from the 2010 World Cup, scored from the penalty spot in a comfortable friendly win in Yerevan for the Euro 2016 hosts.
France dictated proceedings for much of the encounter at the Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium and took the lead after just seven minutes through Gignac’s strike partner Loic Remy.
The hosts threatened sporadically, but Gignac made the game safe in the 55th minute by repaying the faith shown in him by Deschamps, who was part of France’s team for their last meeting with Armenia in 1999.
Gignac displayed the composure that has seen him net nine Ligue 1 goals for Marseille this term as he scored in a France shirt for the first time since his strike in a 3-1 win over Austria on October 14, 2009.
Substitute Antoine Griezmann then put the gloss on a strong performance from Deschamps’ side, who continue to build towards their home tournament in impressive fashion.
Armenia made a bright start but were soon undone as Remy converted following an excellent France counter-attack.
The Chelsea man tapped home from the in-form Gignac’s cross after the Marseille forward had latched on to a superb ball over the top from Jeremy Mathieu.
Undeterred by their early setback, Armenia responded strongly and were denied an equaliser when attacking midfielder Artem Simonyan’s drive was well saved by Steve Mandanda.
France’s goalkeeper then prevented Marcos Pizzelli from scoring a fine individual goal, although the striker perhaps should have laid the ball off with options to his right and left.
For all Armenia’s endeavour, they were fortunate not to fall further behind in the 20th minute. Remy struck Roman Berezovsky’s left-hand post after again combining with Gignac, who was thwarted by Berezovsky nine minutes before the interval.
Paul Pogba was brought on for Blaise Matuidi after the break and his introduction paid dividends as he won the penalty that put France in complete control 10 minutes into the second half.
The Juventus midfielder jinked his way towards goal before being felled by Kamo Hovhannisyan, allowing Gignac to step up and send Berezovsky the wrong way with a confident spot-kick.
Deschamps’ side refused to let up as they pushed for a third, Remy firing narrowly wide following good work from Griezmann and Remy Cabella, before Pogba also went close from a Mathieu Valbuena corner.
France capped off their performance seven minutes from time, Atletico Madrid winger Griezmann springing an offside trap and rounding Berezovsky to slot into an empty net.