World champions France stepped up their preparations for Euro 2020 with a convincing 3-0 victory over 10-man Wales on a night the returning Karim Benzema had a penalty saved.
Benzema, making his first appearance for his country since 2016, was handed a start in a frighteningly strong Les Bleus side, with Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann making up a mouth-watering attacking trio.
Wales' task was made even more difficult when they were reduced to 10 men with just 26 minutes gone when Nico Williams was shown a straight red card for blocking Benzema's goalbound shot with his hand. But Benzema - who has 27 goals in 82 appearances - saw his subsequent spot-kick brilliantly saved by Leicester goalkeeper Danny Ward.
Euro 2020
'I'm moved' - Benzema sends message to France fans after early Euro 2020 exit
04/07/2021 AT 19:42
The deadlock was broken shortly after when Mbappe pounced to stab home after Ward had done well to save Adrien Rabiot's deflected shot with his foot.
Two minutes after the restart, Griezmann doubled France's lead with an exquisite shot from 20 yards after a delightful flick from Mbappe, as the hosts threatened to open up the floodgates.
However, Hugo Lloris - making his 100th cap in his home city of Nice - was required to pull off a fine save to deny Daniel James, who was set up by a fine ball from Aaron Ramsey, introduced after the hour-mark.
The presence of the Juventus midfielder had sparked an improvement for Wales, but there was a sense of inevitability when Ousmane Dembele netted a third for France just moments after coming on to cap a solid team performance.

TALKING POINT - France too strong for 10-man Wales

Despite the scoreline, Wales can hold their head high. It was always likely to be a difficult night for Rob Page's side, but playing the world champions with just 10 men is an impossible task. It's a shame as for almost half-an-hour - without the numerical disadvantage - Wales had looked comfortable and even had their moments in attack. If Gareth Bale struggled to impose himself in the game, Ramsey did not; his performance served as a reminder of his importance to this team. He now has 10 days to get his fitness up to speed.
France played just beneath themselves but in short periods they underlined their mouth-watering unquestionable attacking quality. Didier Deschamps won't have learnt a whole lot about his side tonight but he'll have been pleased with how effortlessly Benzema fits into Les Bleus' system, even if the 33-year-old had an off-night in front of goal.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Danny Ward (Wales)

The 27-year-old shot-stopper did not deserve to be on the losing side, let alone concede three goals. With this excellent performance, he has made it extremely difficult for his manager to leave him out of the starting XI.

PLAYER RATINGS

France: Lloris 6, Pavard 6, Varane 6, Kimpembe 7, Hernandez 6, Tolisso 6, Pogba 8, Rabiot 7, Griezmann 8, Mbappe 8, Benzema 7.. subs: Dembele 7, Ben Yedder N/A, Sissoko 6, Coman 6, Digne 6, Kounde 7.
Wales: Ward 9, Roberts 7, Mepham 6, Rodon 7, Gunter 6, N Williams 4, Allen 5, Morrell 5, Bale 6, James 7, Wilson 6.. subs: B Davies 6, Ramsey 7, Brooks 6, Colwill N/A, Moore 6.

KEY MOMENTS

26' - Penalty to France and a red card to Williams! Rodon clears from the resulting corner, but France recycle the ball and Griezmann delivers a cross from the left, Pogba attacks it with a bullet header and somehow Ward keeps it out! Benzema's rebound strikes the arm of Williams and France are appealing for a penalty... and it's going to VAR. The spot-kick is given and that's little surprise. But what is a surprise is that the referee also shows a straight red card to Williams for what he feels is a deliberate handball. That looks very harsh.
27' - It's saved! Nothing wrong with Benzema's penalty but Ward guesses the right way and gets a strong hand to the spot-kick to push it away from goal.
34' - GOAL! France 1-0 Wales (Kylian Mbappe): This could be a long, long night for Wales now. Rabiot's shot takes a deflection off the boot of Griezmann, Ward does well to save with his foot but Mbappe is quick to pounce and stabs it past the helpless Wales goalkeeper. It's Mbappe's 17th goal for his country.
48' - GOAL! France 2-0 Wales (Antoine Griezmann): An exquisite finish from the Barcelona forward! Pogba rolls it to Mbappe, whose flick tees up Griezmann for a shot from 20 yards. He curls it into the top corner and that is simply fantastic.
79' - GOAL! France 3-0 Wales (Ousmane Dembele): That'll do it! Moments after coming on, Dembele is on the scoresheet. Benzema swivels and hits the post and it falls kindly for Dembele who is left with a simple finish.

KEY STAT

Karim Benzema has now missed each of his last three penalties for France, with the other two before tonight coming in 2014 against Switzerland at the World Cup, and Sweden in a friendly.
Euro 2020
'Sulking' Mbappe 'jealous' of Griezmann at Euro 2020
02/07/2021 AT 12:55
Euro 2020
‘I failed. Sleeping will be difficult’ – Mbappe sends emotional apology to French fans
29/06/2021 AT 07:19