France put the disappointing loss to Colombia behind them as they beat Russia 3-1 at the Saint-Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday.

Both managers made several changes to the sides that were beaten in their respective friendlies last weekend. The initial signs pointed towards the changes working in Russia’s favour as they started the brighter of the two sides, enjoying some promising spells of possession in the early stages, albeit without creating much.

The first chance of the game did fall to the hosts though, as Alan Dzagoev and Fedor Smolov linked up wonderfully before the latter’s first-time shot was saved brilliantly by Hugo Lloris. France, on the other hand, failed to make their time on the ball count, with the Russian’s organisation at the back giving the visitors little space to exploit.

The elusive chance finally came in the 27th minute for Didier Deschamps’ men as Anthony Martial’s first-time shot was deflected before the ball fell to Kylian Mbappe, whose weak effort was easily saved by Andrey Lunev. The moment signalled a shift in momentum as France dominated much of the proceedings for the rest of the half.

Les Bleus had a couple more half chances before the deadlock was finally broken in the 40th minute. Mbappe made up for his horrible miss earlier in the half by latching on to a wonderful through ball by Paul Pobga, slotting the ball into the bottom left corner.

In his elements. (Photo courtesy - Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

In his elements. (Photo courtesy – Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

The PSG star had another chance at the stroke of half-time, but he couldn’t manage to double his tally from Anthony Martial’s cut-back as France took the 1-0 lead into the break. Stanislav Cherchesov made changes at half-time in a bid to shake things up as Konstantin Rausch and Igor Smolnikov replaced Yuri Zhirkov and Aleksandr Samedov on the flanks.

But, it was France who made the immediate impact in the second half as Paul Pogba scored a stunning free-kick just four minutes in after he was fouled 25 yards from goal. Cherchesov was then forced into a third change as Anton Miranchuk replaced Alan Dzagoev, with Russia looking primed for another loss.

The change seemed to have worked its initial effects as the balance of play swung in Russia’s favour, with Vladimir Granat coming the closest to scoring, lashing a shot just wide at the hour mark. This  prompted a change from Deschamps as Martial was replaced by Antoine Griezmann.

But, Russia continued to take the game to their visitors before finally unlocking their defence midway through the second half. Smolnikov threaded a wonderful diagonal ball past three defenders and towards Smolov, who coolly finished off the chance to pull one back for the hosts.

The goal prompted a swift reaction from France, who now looked to grab the game by the scruff of its neck. But, there weren’t many clear-cut opportunities for either side till the 83rd minute, when Mbappe rounded off the win with a marvellous solo goal.

There was no coming back for Russia after that as Cherchesov’s men were left deflated by the goal. The hosts have now conceded three goals in successive games, and have an uphill task ahead of them. France, on the other hand, largely made up for the loss to Colombia, although there still remain some chinks that need to be weeded out.

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