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Finland wins as Ronaldo inches towards int’l goals record

By AFP - Nov 12,2020 - Last updated at Nov 12,2020

Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo (left) vies with Andorra’s midfielder Moises San Nicolas during their international friendly match in Lisbon on Wednesday (AFP photo by Patricia de Melo Moreira)

PARIS — Finland spoiled Marcus Thuram’s party on Wednesday after beating France 2-0 on the day the Borussia Moenchengladbach attacker emulated his father Lilian Thuram by making his debut for Les Bleus.

Thuram was picked by Didier Deschamps for the friendly at the Stade de France over 22 years after his dad won the World Cup at the same ground, but despite a strong performance on the left wing could not stop the Finns from coming out on top.

The 23-year-old hit the bar with less 15 minutes gone and soon after flashed a difficult volley over as he and Lucas Digne caused continual problems down the left flank for the away side.

However, Marcus Forss stunned the hosts when he collected the ball after a Moussa Sissoko mistake and rammed home at Steve Mandanda’s near post.

France barely had any time to react before Onni Valakari doubled the away side’s lead with a stunning effort after being left to stroll towards goal.

Deschamps brought on Antoine Griezmann, Anthony Martial and N’Golo Kante just before the hour mark but could not break down the well-organised Finns.

The result will disappoint Deschamps but he will likely have been happy with the performance of Thuram, who made more of an impression than some of the more established international players on display, including Paul Pogba and Olivier Giroud.

“It was a good first half despite the goals,” Thuram told TV channel M6.

“I’m trying to learn a lot alongside the other internationals... and to gain as much experience as possible. I hope that will continue.”

He could be in contention for World Cup holders France’s upcoming Nations League matches against European champions Portugal and Sweden.

Deschamps said last week that the son of his old France teammate had “gone up a level” since joining Moenchengladbach from French side Guingamp in July 2019.

Thuram has scored three times in 11 appearances for the Bundesliga side this season and was the first footballer in Germany to take a knee in protest following the death of the 46-year-old African American George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

Lilian Thuram is the most-capped player in the history of the French national team with 142 appearances and as well as winning the ‘98 World Cup also triumphed alongside Deschamps at Euro 2000.

Cristiano Ronaldo continued his quest to snatch the all-time record for most international goals when he struck his 102nd Portugal goal in their in a 7-0 win over Andorra.

France’s opponents on Saturday in what could be a Nations League A, Group 3 decider strolled post their weak opponents in Lisbon despite not starting a single player from the team that beat Sweden 3-0 last month.

Ronaldo missed that match after testing positive for coronavirus and was introduced at half-time on Wednesday, but had to wait until there were only five minutes remaining to boost his record bid with a close-range header.

Former Iran striker Ali Daei holds the record on 109 goals.

Italy extended their unbeaten streak to 20 games after a second-string line-up comfortably beat Estonia a 4-0.

Vincenzo Grifo scored his first senior international goal with a long-range drive in the 14th minute and Federico Bernardeschi put the hosts two goals ahead 13 minutes later when he drifted in from the right and crashed a low shot past Marko Meerits in the Estonia goal.

Grifo stepped up and scored his second from the penalty spot when Roberto Gagliardini was tripped with 15 minutes remaining and Riccardo Orsolini added a fourth also from the spot four minutes from the end to complete the rout.

Frank de Boer’s wait for a first win as Netherlands coach goes on after his team drew 1-1 with Spain in a friendly in Amsterdam on Wednesday.

De Boer has now gone four matches without a victory since being appointed in September to succeed Ronald Koeman, who left to take over at Barcelona.

A first-half goal by Benfica striker Luca Waldschmidt sealed Germany a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic, while two Michy Batshuayi goals helped Belgium to a 2-1 victory over Switzerland.

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