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France trump Netherlands in Paris

France 2-0 Netherlands
Les Bleus scored two wonderful first-half goals as they asserted themselves against a young Dutch team in the French capital.

Karim Benzema takes the acclaim of the crowd after his opener
Karim Benzema takes the acclaim of the crowd after his opener ©AFP/Getty Images

Karim Benzema and Blaise Matuidi scored in the first half as France got the better of a youthful Netherlands side.

Benzema put Les Bleus ahead just after the half-hour mark at Stade de France, with Matuidi, who signed a new contract with Paris Saint-Germain last week, on target nine minutes later. It was France's first victory against the Oranje, their fellow FIFA World Cup participants, in four games dating back to February 1997.

The Dutch started with two uncapped players, Quincy Promes and Jean-Paul Boetius, as coach Louis van Gaal looked to experiment ahead of this summer's tournament in Brazil.

France debutant Antoine Griezmann returned Mathieu Valbuena's back-post cross into the penalty area for Benzema, but the Real Madrid CF front man's point-blank header was blocked on the line by Ron Vlaar with 18 minutes gone.

Hugo Lloris then beat out Robin van Persie's angled drive before Benzema broke the deadlock, allowing Matuidi's chipped through ball to bounce in the box and firing it inside the left upright before it could bounce again.

One became two shortly before the break as Benzema fed Valbuena on the right. The playmaker's whipped delivery was slightly behind Matuidi, but the Paris midfielder improvised with an acrobatic volley to score his first international goal.

Lucas Digne, a member of France's 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup-winning squad, made his senior bow as a half-time replacement. As the tempo dropped after the restart, Raphaël Varane headed narrowly over the crossbar. 

Jasper Cillessen remained the busier goalkeeper as the number of substitutions increased, both coaches taking the opportunity to assess their squads as preparations for Brazil 2014 intensify. France return to the national stadium to face Norway on 27 May in the first of three warm-up matches.

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