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Griezmann and Giroud score again as France beats Wales 2-0

Associated Press logoAssociated Press 10/11/2017 By JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer
France's Antoine Griezmann celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during an international friendly soccer match between France and Wales at Stade de France in Saint Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, France, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Francois Mori) © The Associated Press France's Antoine Griezmann celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during an international friendly soccer match between France and Wales at Stade de France in Saint Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, France, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Strike partners Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud scored as France began its World Cup warmup program with a comfortable 2-0 home win against Wales in a friendly on Friday.

Both have struggled for their clubs, with Griezmann lacking goals for Atletico Madrid and Giroud hardly managing to get a game for Arsenal.

But in the continued absence of Karim Benzema for France they still work very well in tandem for Les Bleus. They have been coach Didier Deschamps' front two since last year's European Championship and are odds-on to continue at the World Cup in Russia next year.

France qualified top of its qualifying group while Wales failed to make the playoffs. France is away to Germany on Tuesday.

Griezmann showed balance and athleticism to volley in the opening goal in the 18th minute — his 19th for France — and Giroud's composure under pressure allowed him to pick his spot in the 71st for his 29th international goal.

"It was a consistent performance. We could have scored more but did what he had to do," Deschamps said. "We created problems for them throughout. Germany is better than Wales, although this Wales side does not lose often."

Griezmann's goal will give him confidence after only two league goals for Atletico Madrid this season.

He held his run just late enough to latch onto Corentin Tolisso's pass over the top of the defense and volleyed past goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, although Hennessey should have done better as he got both hands to it.

"The pass made all the difference," Griezmann said. "I know what he (Tolisso) is capable of and it was perfect."

Giroud collected a pass from the irrepressible Kylian Mbappe and took one touch to stand up his marker and then fooled him by clipping a shot inside the post, with the deflection making it even harder for Hennessey.

"Aside from my personal satisfaction, it's great that we won tonight," Giroud said. "We had a lot of chances and we managed to kill the game off. We did a lot of good things out there."

Soon after, center half Samuel Umtiti struck the top of the post with a fierce drive as France poured forward.

The slow Welsh defense was exposed immediately.

Mbappe hit the crossbar after his shot went through Hennessey's legs and bounced up off his foot.

Giroud had a quiet half apart from a heated argument with Hennessey.

France totally controlled possession after the break but failed to muster a decent chance until midfielder Steven N' Zonzi — on as a substitute for his debut - headed over Nabil Fekir's corner.

Moments later, Ramsey almost equalized with a close-range flick that goalie Steve Mandanda alertly saved with his feet. He then reacted well to palm away Chris Gunter's follow-up strike.

That was as close as it got for a Wales side that has drifted since reaching the semifinals at Euro 2016.

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