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FOOTBALL

Cameroon falls to France thanks to brilliant free kick

NANTES, France - Dimitri Payet scored a brilliant last-minute free kick as European Championship host France beat Cameroon 3-2 in a friendly Monday.

The attacking midfielder angled a shot from wide on the right into the opposite corner, cancelling out striker Eric Choupo Moting’s 88th-minute equalizer for Cameroon.

Striker Olivier Giroud also strengthened his claim for a starting place with a well-taken volley late in the first half, putting France up 2-1.

With Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema left out by coach Didier Deschamps, the center-forward’s jersey was a choice between Giroud and Andre-Pierre Gignac.

Giroud’s fifth goal in the past six international games puts him in a commanding position.

Following early France pressure, Cameroon almost scored on a sharp counterattack when striker Karl Toko drew a smart save from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

France made Cameroon pay when Bayern winger Kingsley Coman burst down the left and pulled the ball back to the penalty spot, where Matuidi finished with a crisp volley.

But Cameroon hit back when Aboubakar shrugged off center half Adil Rami - making his first international appearance for three years - and turned in Allan-Romeo Nyom’s cross from the right.

Giroud then grabbed his 15th international goal following good work from Paul Pogba in the 41st.

Pogba delivered a perfect right-wing cross for Giroud, who volleyed in his fifth goal in the past three games for France and Arsenal.

Pogba almost made it 3-1 with a curling shot in the 62nd but goalkeeper Joseph Ondoa denied him with a leaping save.

AP

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