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France routs Russia 3-1 in St. Petersburg friendly football match

March 27, 21:13 UTC+3 ST. PETERSBURG

Both teams showed equal play for the most of the opening half of the game

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© Alexander Demyanchuk/TASS

ST. PETERSBURG, March 27. /TASS/. The French national team defeated Russia 3-1 in Tuesday night’s friendly football match at Saint Petersburg Stadium.

The friendly match between Russia and France was played less than 80 days ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the 64,000-seat capacity St. Petersburg Arena. Some 48,000 tickets were sold for tonight’s match, according to the organizers.

Both teams showed equal play for most of the opening half as the statistics showed a 50-50% ball possession as well as an equal 1-1 shots on goal attempts.

Nonetheless, the visiting team France opened the scoring late in the first half, when Kylian Mbappe sent a ball into the left corner of the Russian goal from a swift pass across the box from his teammate, Paul Pogba.

After the mid-match break, France dominated with 2-0 less than 10 minutes into the second half. It was Pogba this time with a fantastic curler from a free-kick shot into the Russian net that left no chances at all for Russian goalkeeper Andrei Lunev to save the situation.

The Russian team had a near 100-percent opportunity to score in the 58th minute after a corner kick by Fyodor Smolov, but with the ball bouncing off wild in the box of the French goal, Russia’s Vladimir Granat kicked it wide amiss, although the net was open.

Russia’s home-pitch advantage finally paid off when Fyodor Smolov tapped home a deep cross from substitute right-back Igor Smolnikov in the 68th minute. Smolov’s shot whipped up excitement in the stands, but the local football fans went quiet after France’s Mbappe scored another goal 15 minutes later.

Kylian Mbappe put the ball into the Russian net from the left wing after a brief dribble past the Russian defenders, setting the score at 3-1 in favor of France. It was his second goal in the match against Russia and the third overall playing for the French national team. France’s 3-1 dominance remained flashing on the scoreboard until the final whistle.

This friendly defeat was Russia’s second in five days as last Friday, Brazil shut out the Russian team 3-0 in a match played at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

The Russian national team is scheduled to play two more friendly matches in the run-up to the World Cup: in May against Austria in Innsbruck and against Turkey in early June in Moscow.

Seventy-nine days are left until the kickoff of the 2018 FIFA World Cup with the opening match in the Russian capital of Moscow.

Russia selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.

The matches of the 2018 World Cup will be held between June 14 and July 15 at 12 stadiums located in the 11 above-mentioned cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital

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