Portugal Stumbles, France Wins in World Cup Warm Ups

Olivier Giroud scored the first goal for France.Olivier Giroud scored the first goal for France.

European champion Portugal spurned a two-goal lead against Tunisia, stumbling to a 2-2 draw, as France, one of the World Cup favorites, flexed their muscles with a comfortable 2-0 win over Ireland in warm-up friendlies on Monday.

Portugal were without captain Cristiano Ronaldo after he won the Champions League with Real Madrid on Saturday and Tunisia exposed defensive frailties in Fernando Santos’ side which Group B opponents Spain, Morocco and Iran will try to exploit, Reuters reported.

Andre Silva and Joao Mario fired Portugal ahead in Braga but Tunisia’s speed on the counter-attack was a problem for the host.

Anice Badri and Fakhreddine Ben Youssef pulled the African side level, proving they will be no pushovers for Group G favorites Belgium and England, as well as Panama.

France put in a strong performance in Paris, with goals from Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir not telling the complete story of their dominance against Ireland.

Impressive surges from full backs Benjamin Mendy and Djibril Sidibe showed Les Bleus have attacking power outside their collection of talented forwards and Didier Deschamps’ team selection highlighted their squad depth.

Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante did not start but Giroud, Fekir and Corentin Tolisso impressed in their absence.

Coach Roberto Mancini began his Italy reign with a 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia and his former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli opened the scoring on his return to the national team for the first time since 2014.

Italy failed to reach the World Cup but began a new era with Andrea Belotti adding a second goal, but Saudi Arabia hit back thanks to Yahya Al Sheri and could have grabbed a late equalizer. The Arab nation is in Group A, with host Russia, Uruguay and Egypt.

Forward Son Heung-min lashed home from distance as South Korea beat Honduras 2-0 in Daegu, getting its preparations for Russia off to a good start. South Korea is considered underdog in Group F, where it faces Germany, Mexico and Sweden.

Nigeria was frustrated in a 1-1 draw with Congo in Port Harcourt which does not bode well for their challenge of qualifying from World Cup Group D which also includes Argentina, Iceland and Croatia.

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