In an international friendly between two European footballing giants, France edged out Italy in a 2-1 victory.
The first half featured little drama until the 35th minute when Italy's Stephan El Shaarawy showed off his striker's instincts and coolly converted a golden opportunity to put his team in the lead. But Italy's advantage did not last long as Mathieu Valbuena capped off a brilliant run with a stunning shot in the far corner of the net just two minutes later.
The French then seized control in the second half when Bafetimbi Gomis tapped in an errant shot from Patrice Evra in the 67th minute.
The Italians had their chances before the final whistle blew but were unable to find an equalizer. Here are grades and analysis from the match.
Franck Ribery, France: C+
Ribery was able to pose danger down the sidelines at points but rarely gave the Italians much reason to worry. Without Karim Benzema in the lineup, Ribery was clearly the best attacker on the French side, and the team needed him to be better in order to pull off a victory.
He still had a decent game but was simply not able to flash the creativity and pace that has made him one of the top attacking players in football in the past. He was taken off well before the match ended, and Jeremy Menez, his replacement, was able to help set up a goal shortly after coming on.
Mario Balotelli, Italy: B-
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the match and the form he is in, Balotelli is always the center of attention when he is on the pitch. He has the rare ability to ruin a match with a boneheaded mistake or win it with an incredible piece of skill at any moment.
While Balotelli has impacted so many matches in both positive and negative ways, he was rarely heard from during this fixture, with the exception of one opportunity that rang off the woodwork. This was a quiet and thus disappointing match for the mercurial striker.
Mathieu Valbuena, France: A-
Valbuena's goal was a magnificent piece of skill and ability. He took control of the ball in an unthreatening position near the corner of the pitch, then proceeded to weave his way through the Italian defense before curling a ball into the top corner of the net.
He was not able to have other moments like that in the match, but remained a constant threat before being taken off. Still, his brilliant strike is the majority of the reason for his high mark.
Stephan El Shaarawy, Italy: B+
It was Italy's other mohawked young striker who made a significant impact on this game. The 20-year-old AC Milan star scored Italy's first goal after needing just one touch to get Riccardo Montolivo's pass through Hugo Lloris.
He made an excellent run on the play and looked comfortable and confident when striking the ball. His future certainly looks bright with the Azzurri.
Patrice Evra, France: B+
The Manchester United man played all 90 minutes and kept the French defense organized and focused while the Italian back line often looked shaky. He was still able to get forward as well and was rewarded with an assist.
He may not have been trying to pass, but if a player is going to miss a shot, it is always better to miss wide of the far post because that leaves open the possibility of a teammate tapping the ball into the net. This is exactly what happened, and Evra still deserves credit for setting up this scoring opportunity.