Loic Remy heaps more problems on Spain as France win 1-0

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Substitute Loic Remy scored the winner to give France a 1-0 victory and compound more misery on Spain at Stade de France.

The new Chelsea striker came off the bench and made his mark with a wonderful finish on 73 minutes, leaving the Spanish with so many answers to find after another lacklustre performance.

World Cup fallout

This was the first international fixture for both sides since they each endured a very contrasting 2014 FIFA World Cup.

La Roja were hoping this would be the start of them burying the hatchet after a dismal showing in Brazil which saw them bow out within the first two games, while Les Bleus were looking to kick on from their impressive run to the quarter-finals and begin their preparation for hosting Euro 2016 in two years time.

Didier Deschamps made just a single alteration to his side that were beaten in the World Cup quarter-finals as Moussa Sissoko replaced Yohan Cabaye in midfield, while three La Liga representatives were included in the starting line-up – Real Madrid pair Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane, along with Atletico Madrid man Antoine Griezmann.

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Del Bosque decisions

Vicente del Bosque began his task of rebuilding the team by handing out three debuts on Thursday evening. Real’s Daniel Carvajal was joined by Athletic Bilbao’s Mikel San Jose in defence, while Atletico’s Raul Garcia was part of a three-man attack.

The French carried the greater threat in the first half as Sissoko looked very dangerous down the right wing, while Benzema was keeping David De Gea on his toes.

Real’s number nine had a snapshot well held by the former Atletico 'keeper, while he just failed to connect with the impressive Paul Pogba’s chipped ball in behind the defence.

Spain were having phases of keeping the ball well but they found themselves overdoing it and not having an end-product, this was the case six minutes before the break. A neat move was followed by a cute threaded pass from Cazorla to Carvajal in the French area, but he the full-back slipped as he looked to cut the ball back across the area.

Deschamps’ men were on top again for most of the second. A quick counter-attack saw Benzema link up with Pogba and Sissoko, before sweeping the ball home from the Newcastle man’s cross. But he was denied by the offside flag although replays showed that he was in line with the ball as it was played.

Mathieu Valbuena shot just wide for the hosts before he set up the decisive goal 17 minutes from time. More crisp play between Benzema and Sissoko found the winger unmarked in the penalty area, and he cut the ball across the box for Remy to fire home first-time, leaving De Gea with no chance.

Urgent Spain

As a result, the Spanish finally began to show some urgency. Cesar Azpilicueta’s ball across the area narrowly evaded substitutes David Silva and Pedro Rodriguez for what would have been a tap-in.

The subs then combined to almost brilliant effect with seven minutes remaining. Pedro’s clever stepover allowed Silva to gain a yard on his marker, but he dragged his effort narrowly wide of the far post.

Substitute Paco Alcacer was whiskers away from a dream debut soon after, as he almost latched onto Pedro’s through pass but the ball just drifted away from him at the vital moment.

The final flourishes from both sides saw Mathieu Debuchy time his challenge on substitute Isco to perfection in the area, while at the other end Benzema drew another good save out of De Gea as he looked to wrap the game up.

It was another good win for Les Bleus and the fans can sense that there are great times ahead for their team, but Spain desperately need a response and huge improvement in their performance when they host Macedonia in their opening Euro 2016 qualifier on Monday.

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