Paul Pogba scores majestic free-kick as France down World Cup hosts Russia
International friendly, Saint Petersburg Stadium – Russia 1 (Smolov 68’) France 3 (Mbappe 40’ 83’, Pogba 49’)
A superb free-kick from Paul Pogba and a brace from Kylian Mbappe helped France to a 3-1 victory over World Cup hosts Russia in St Petersburg on Tuesday.
Pogba's brilliant ball set Mbappe away and once he cut back onto his right the end result was never in doubt.
France's forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring a goal during an international friendly football match between Russia and France at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on March 27, 2018.Getty Images
The Manchester United man doubled his team's lead in the second-half with a sensational effort from distance before Smolov cut the deficit as he turned home a fine cross from Igor Smolnikov.
However any hopes of a comeback were extinguished when Mbappe's quick feet gave him the chance to restore France's two-goal cushion, although home goalkeeper Andrey Lunev will be upset to be beaten so easily.
How far can this French side go at the World Cup? Much has been made over the past couple of weeks about the sheer amount of depth that France have and you can see why. Despite starting Mbappe, Anthony Martial and Ousmane Dembele as a front three Didier Deschamps could still call upon Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Thomas Lemar from the bench. The key for Deschamps is to manage his squad effectively and make the right decisions with who he picks. He then has to hope the likes of Griezmann and Pogba can provide enough star power to get past the likes of Germany and Spain.
Kylian Mbappé celebrates his goalGetty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
Paul Pogba (France) - Question marks will be raised about Pogba's excellent performance in a 4-3-3, even though he wasn't always playing on the left. Whilst he, N'Golo Kante and Adrien Rabiot were quite free in their movement Pogba's best moments, his assist and goal, came from that side. The way Jose Mourinho uses him at United will continue to come under scrutiny, and rightly so based on this match.
Paul Pogba scores a free-kick against RussiaGetty Images
Russia - Lunev 6; Samedov 4, Neustadter 4, Granat 5, Kudryashov 4, Zhirkov 6; Erokhin 5, Golovin 4, Dzagoev 5, Al Miranchuk 4; Smolov 7. Subs: Rausch 5, Smolnikov 6, Miranchuk 6, Zabolotny 5, Shvets 5, Cheryshev 5
40' - GOAL! RUSSIA 0-1 FRANCE (MBAPPE) That's Mbappe's second goal for France! Great ball from Pogba plays in the PSG forward and he cuts back onto his right and slots it home.
49' - GOAL! RUSSIA 0-2 FRANCE (POGBA) The changes will have to wait! Pogba has just curled home a fantastic free-kick from the edge of the area. Brilliant hit!
58' - WHAT A MISS! The corner is volleyed towards goal by Smolov but Lloris can only parry. It goes into the path of Granat but he somehow hits it wide.
68' - GOAL! RUSSIA 1-2 FRANCE (SMOLOV) That is a brilliant goal from Russia. They take the ball down the pitch with a good move and Smolnikov gets it down the right. He sends a brilliant cross into the box and finds Smolov at the back post and h makes no mistake. We've got a game!
83' - GOAL! RUSSIA 1-3 FRANCE (MBAPPE) Lovely from Mbappe! He picks up the ball from Matuidi and some silky footwork sees him gets a bit of space and fire it towards goal. Lunev will be disappointed with that. And Mbappe is going to come off, he's taken a knock.
Paul Pogba has scored a goal and delivered an assist in the same game for the very first time with the French national team.
Kylian Mbappé is the youngest player to score a brace with the French national team in the post-war period (19 years and 3 months)