Karim Benzema scored one goal and created another as France recorded a 2-1 victory over Portugal in their friendly in Paris. With the Euro 2016 hosts taking on the odd team out on Group I qualifying nights, it was the Real Madrid striker who proved to be the difference between the two sides – with debutant Joao Mario shining for Portugal. Benzema found the net early on before teeing up Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba in the second half, as Portugal pulled one back through a Ricardo Quaresma penalty. France took the lead in the third minute as Benzema was on hand to convert the rebound as Rui Patricio pushed Bacary Sagna's shot away from goal. Antoine Griezmann should have done better shortly afterwards but could only poke an effort straight at Patricio as the hosts looked to take full advantage of a slow start from Fernando Santos' side. That miss seemed to act as a wake-up call for the visitors but both Danny and Nani spurned the chance to level the game before Patricio was again forced into action to stop France captain Blaise Matuidi scoring from close range. The Sporting goalkeeper was kept busy as he tipped a header from his own defender Pepe over the crossbar and kept Matuidi at bay. Cristiano Ronaldo – a team-mate of Benzema's at Real Madrid – had a quiet evening but went close to equalising as he headed Nani's ball across goal only to see Steve Mandanda push it away. Pogba doubled France's advantage as he latched onto Benzema's cross after he had been found on the flank by Patrice Evra. Portugal captain Ronaldo's last contribution was to see a deflected volley fly wide before he was withdrawn to give Joao Mario his international bow. The Sporting midfielder was involved almost instantly as he went down in the area under a challenge from Raphael Varane – with Quaresma converting the resulting spot-kick. Joao Mario almost sealed the most memorable of debuts with a late equaliser but the 21-year-old's effort cleared Mandanda's crossbar.
World Cup 2018