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Valbuena earns France narrow win in Portugal

Portugal 0-1 France
Substitute Mathieu Valbuena gave France's supporters reason to smile again with a sublime free-kick winner in the Portuguese capital.

Mathieu Valbuena curls the winner over the Portuguese wall
Mathieu Valbuena curls the winner over the Portuguese wall ©Getty Images
  • Home side fail to end 40-year wait for win over France
  • Friendly encounter as France prepare to host UEFA EURO 2016
  • New Manchester United signing Anthony Martial makes debut for France
  • Next games: France v Serbia, Albania v Portugal (7 September)

France beat Portugal 1-0 in Lisbon as the UEFA EURO 2016 hosts registered their first victory since March.

Mathieu Valbuena came off the bench to score the only goal of the game with a brilliant free-kick, five minutes from the end.

With William Carvalho, João Moutinho and Tiago all absent, Portugal coach Fernando Santos was forced to enter the field with a completely renewed midfield, featuring Adrien, João Mário and Danilo Pereira, while Didier Deschamps opted to name Nabil Fekir alongside Karim Benzema. However, both teams failed to produce any real danger early on.

After a slow first half-hour, Rui Patrício was the first goalkeeper called into action, denying Blaise Matuidi with a fine left-footed save. The visitors were starting to look increasingly dangerous, but Portugal soon responded, with Cristiano Ronaldo testing Hugo Lloris from a free-kick.

The second half began with Patrício again saving the hosts, this time diving at the feet of Antoine Griezmann when the Atlético Madrid forward looked certain to score. Benzema was next to test the Portuguese keeper, who once again proved equal to the challenge, with Éder shooting wide at the other end as Portugal tried to counter.

The two coaches started producing the usual changes, and one man from the bench came on to conjure the winning goal. Five minutes after replacing Moussa Sissoko, Valbuena brilliantly curled a free-kick with his right foot, giving Patrício no chance at all.

Portugal now return to action in Group I against Albania on Monday, with France welcoming Serbia on the same night in another friendly encounter.

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