France Defeats Paraguay 5-0 Behind Olivier Giroud Hat-Trick

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 2, 2017

France's forward Olivier Giroud celebrates after scoring his second goal during the friendly football match between France and Paraguay on June 2, 2017 at the Roazhon park stadium in Rennes, western France. / AFP PHOTO / DAMIEN MEYER        (Photo credit should read DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)
DAMIEN MEYER/Getty Images

A hat-trick from Olivier Giroud saw France to a 5-0 friendly win over Paraguay at the Stade de la Route de Lorient on Friday night.

The Arsenal forward netted twice early in the first period to put the hosts in complete control of the contest. Giroud was then on the spot again in the second half to grab his third, while Moussa Sissoko and Antoine Griezmann rounded off the rout.

Didier Deschamps' side looked in tremendous form ahead of a critical FIFA World Cup qualifying game on June 9 in Solna, Sweden. France are three points ahead of the Scandinavian outfit at the summit of Group A.

International managers crave chemistry in these types of contests given the players spend so much of the season apart. So Deschamps would have been delighted with the way in which his side started this one.

Deschamps saw his side start this friendly with authority.
Deschamps saw his side start this friendly with authority.FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

The hosts were on the front foot from the off, pinning back their South American opponents with slick passing. Within six minutes, they had the award for early dominance, with Ousmane Dembele slipping in Giroud to fire France in front.

Per Tom Coast of Sport Witness, the Dortmund winger did brilliantly to set up the striker:

France's tails were up from this point, and while Paraguay did carry a threat on the break, they were looking ropey at the back.

The French forwards were keen to take advantage and were consistently finding space on the flanks. That was always going to be a danger for the visitors, especially with Dimitri Payet's ability to pick out such pinpoint crosses.

Giroud was alert early on to give France a two-goal lead.
Giroud was alert early on to give France a two-goal lead.DAMIEN MEYER/Getty Images

It was the Arsenal man on the end of the ball into the box, doubling his side's advantage with a determined finish.

Dembele could have made it three soon after but shot wide when well placed in the penalty area. For the rest of the half, the hosts controlled possession and ensured Paraguay rarely ventured out of their own half.

At the interval, Deschamps withdrew the likes of Payet, Dembele and Paul Pogba, and unsurprisingly France's play lacked the punch it had initially.

Some chances still came. Griezmann, uncharacteristically quiet on the night, had one of the best opportunities, slashing over from close range. Indeed, it was his fellow forward who had his shooting boots on on Friday.

Griezmann was quiet for long spells, but eventually grabbed his goal.
Griezmann was quiet for long spells, but eventually grabbed his goal.DAMIEN MEYER/Getty Images

Again, Giroud capitalised on good work from out wide, as left-back Lucas Digne scurried forward and fizzed in a brilliant cross for the striker to turn home. Football journalist Andrew Gibney was delighted to see the striker performing so well:

Giroud was withdrawn to a rapturous reception after netting his third goal of the evening, with Alexandre Lacazette entering the fray. The Lyon forward made an immediate impact, setting up Sissoko to make it four for France.

Per Robin Bairner of Goal, France were really beginning to rub it in at this stage:

Paraguayan chins were buried in chests at this point, with Les Bleus starting to run riot. And Griezmann finally got his goal 12 minutes from time—the home side's third in nine minutes—after latching on to a loose ball into the box after some poor defending.

After netting their fifth, France did take their foot off the gas in the final stages, as the match ambled to a close. The fluidity, physicality and depth they displayed on Friday is another reminder that they are going to be serious contenders in Russia in 2018.  

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