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Birthday boy Dimitri Payet helped dismantle Denmark in the first half in Saint-Etienne as France overcame the visitors in Sunday's friendly. Payet, the leading assists provider in Ligue 1, did not make the cut for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, though his EURO claims will be impossible for coach Didier Deschamps to ignore if he can maintain his form.

Payet's priceless ability to influence a match in the final third, coupled with dead-ball prowess, was hardly a secret to the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard as the midfielder starred for AS Saint-Étienne between 2007 and 2011.

The 28-year-old admitted the familiar surroundings had helped: "It's a bit like being at home here and that allowed me to play with freedom. I got myself more involved in the attacks and performed my role better so I would say it's one of my best games for France. The atmosphere here is always something special, even more so now the stadium has been renovated and the stands are much closer to the pitch."

30/03/201510:19David Crossan

Alexandre Lacazette felt "liberated" after striking his first international goal for France to open the scoring in Sunday's 2-0 friendly win against Denmark. Lacazette, Ligue 1's 23-goal leading scorer this season as an out-and-out centre-forward, adapted adeptly to the wide attacking remit that recalled his younger days at Olympique Lyonnais.

"There's a lot of joy and I'm very proud. I feel liberated to have scored my first goal," said Lacazette, 23, after breaking his international duck at the sixth attempt. "It can only help me next time I play for my country. I don't know if I've scored points this evening – you'd have to ask the coach – but I scored a goal and that's a good thing."


©AFP
30/03/201510:08David Crossan

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