PARIS (AFP) - Olivier Giroud scored a double as France stepped up their World Cup preparations on Tuesday with a 4-0 victory over Norway at the Stade de France in the first of three pre-tournament friendlies.
Paul Pogba netted a first-half opener in Paris, while Giroud enhanced his reputation ahead of next month’s finals in Brazil through a second-half brace that came either side of Loic Remy’s first international goal since 2011.
Despite the absence of some key regulars, Didier Deschamps fielded a strong side featuring seven probable starters for Les Bleus’ World Cup opener against Honduras on June 15.
Hugo Lloris and Franck Ribery were both rested while Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane have yet to join up with the squad after helping Real Madrid win the Champions League final against city rivals Atletico on Saturday.
France made a promising start as Antoine Griezmann and Giroud both tested Norway goalkeeper Orjan Nyland with headers inside the opening few minutes.
Griezmann again came close to putting the hosts in front when he redirected Yohan Cabaye’s bouncing effort just wide of the far post, but it wasn’t long before France found the breakthrough.
Mathieu Valbuena clipped a cross into the box and Pogba was on hand to send a stooping header beyond a helpless Nyland to give Les Bleus a 15th-minute lead.
The Juventus midfielder came close to a second shortly after as he fired narrowly wide from distance before France goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier, winning just his second cap as a stand-in for Lloris, held a low fizzing strike from Norway’s Alexander Tettey.
Saint-Etienne keeper Ruffier, whose international debut came in a 2-1 defeat against the same opposition four years ago, then stuck out his right hand to deny Tom Hogli.
However, the Norwegians, ranked joint-55th in the world, found themselves overmatched in the second half as Arsenal striker Giroud drilled in a second on 51 minutes before the hosts rammed home their superiority.
Remy, who had only just come on in place of Griezmann, ran onto Newcastle teammate Mathieu Debuchy’s wonderful through ball and slotted home a third on 67 minutes.
Giroud then doubled his tally, again combining well with Valbuena, as he sent an excellent looping header into the far corner to cap a resounding win two minutes later.
France will next head to Nice to play Paraguay on Sunday before making the trip north for a friendly with Jamaica in Lille on June 8.
They kick off their World Cup campaign against Honduras in Porto Alegre before facing Switzerland and Ecuador in Group E.