World Cup 2018: 3 days to go

Deschamps leaps to Lloris' defence

France's Kylian Mbappe beating US players Tim Parker (left) and Joe Corona during their friendly on Saturday. The French striker scored the equaliser in the 1-1 draw.
France's Kylian Mbappe beating US players Tim Parker (left) and Joe Corona during their friendly on Saturday. The French striker scored the equaliser in the 1-1 draw.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Goalkeeper's error leads to the US' first-ever goal against France but Mbappe rescues Les Bleus

PARIS • France may have an embarrassment of riches up front and in the middle of the park, but their defence remains suspect following a lacklustre 1-1 draw with the United States on Saturday.

Coach Didier Deschamps was forced to jump to Hugo Lloris' defence after the goalkeeper made a costly error in what was Les Bleus' final friendly before the Russia World Cup starts on Thursday.

According to Sky Sports, Lloris, who will be France's No. 1 in Russia, has made 10 errors for Tottenham Hotspur since the 2015-16 season which have directly led to goals - more than any other Premier League goalkeeper.

Lloris did not do his reputation for being prone to the occasional lapse in concentration any favours, after conceding Julian Green's opener at his near post in the 44th minute. It was the US' first-ever goal against France.

Deschamps, however, indicated in his post-match interview that he still retained his faith in Lloris, with Steve Mandanda and Alphonse Areola waiting in the wings.

"Everyone will have his own analysis of Hugo's season," the former France captain said.

"Yes, he made three errors with Tottenham that cost goals - (but) he played 60 games, he also earned points for Tottenham, as he made points for France.

"Tonight, obviously he knows it, he can do better on the goal that we conceded, even if there is an error by Djibril Sidibe before.

"But I'm not here to question everything. He has a long, painful season, he's going to get on with it too."

Forward Kylian Mbappe spared Lloris' blushes as Deschamps' men lacked pace and were devoid of energy against their opponents, despite enjoying more possession.

However, Paul Pogba, who has been heavily criticised after several under-par performances, started and put on a good display for France.

"We regained the upper hand near the end," said Mbappe, who equalised in the 78th minute for his fourth international goal.

"I've been improving steadily in the last three matches and tonight, I did what I was supposed to do, I was decisive."

France open their Group C campaign on Saturday against Australia, whose coach Bert van Marwijk admitted there was much to ponder over after the Socceroos laboured to a 2-1 win over Hungary.

Elsewhere, playmaker Christian Eriksen celebrated his return to the Denmark team following the birth of his first child with a goal and an assist for Yussuf Poulsen.

His side beat fellow qualifiers Mexico 2-0 in their final friendly in Copenhagen on Saturday.

Scandinavian neighbours Sweden drew another blank as Peru held them to a frustrating goal-less draw in their final warm-up game.

Younes Belhanda and Hakim Ziyech scored in the first half to ensure Morocco continued to show good form as they finished their World Cup preparations with a confidence-building 3-1 away win over Estonia .

Serbia also enjoyed a morale-boosting dress rehearsal , with Aleksandar Mitrovic scoring a hat-trick in their 5-1 drubbing of Bolivia.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2018, with the headline 'Deschamps leaps to Lloris' defence'. Print Edition | Subscribe