France held to a draw by Serbia


Aleksandar Kolarov's fantastic free-kick denied France their second win in a week as Les Bleus were held to a 1-1 draw in their international friendly against Serbia in Belgrade. The Manchester City defender's 25-yard strike flew past helpless France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris 10 minutes from time as the hosts warmed up for their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a fine result against the competition hosts. Didier Deschamps' men took an early lead through Paul Pogba's strike but could not follow up victory against Spain on Thursday with another win at Stadion FK Partizan. Pogba's strike from close range punctuated a slow opening, with the Juventus midfielder finding space at the back post to smash high into the net from Remy Cabella's corner. The visitors continued to control the tempo but were given a let-off when Zoran Tosic curled wide from just outside the area following a fluid Serbia counter-attack. Serbia came even closer in the lead up to half-time as Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic crashed a header against the bar from Tosic's free-kick, while Dusan Tadic fired inches wide after France had failed to clear a corner. However, having been under pressure, France nearly doubled their advantage as Cabella saw his strike on the edge of the box palmed away by Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic. Serbia thought they had levelled proceedings when Kolarov fired past Lloris but the effort was quickly chalked off for offside, while at the other end Pogba saw his effort punched away by Stojkovic, who then denied Loic Remy's poor finish from close range. Kolorov saw two long range efforts kept out by Lloris but he would not be denied by his Premier League compatriot a third time as his stunning left-footed effort levelled matters. Morgan Schneiderlin upended Tosic 25 yards from goal and Kolorov, following a lay-off, stepped up to fire low into the corner past Tottenham goalkeeper Lloris. France desperately tried to get back into the ascendancy but found themselves lacking a decisive touch, with substitute Karim Benzema just as ineffective as Remy had been in the opening hour of the contest. Indeed, it was Serbia who nearly nicked a winner at the death as Ivanovic was once again denied by the woodwork. The defender was once again in the thick of the action from a set-piece as he headed against a post from Tosic's inswinging corner as both sides settled for a draw.