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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

World Cup watch: unconvincing displays from France and Spain in final friendlies

Les Bleus had to rely on late equaliser against the US while title favourites edged to 1-0 win over Tunisia

Kylian MBappe, right, spared French blushes in their friendly against the US with his late equaliser. AFP/JEFF PACHOUD
Kylian MBappe, right, spared French blushes in their friendly against the US with his late equaliser. AFP/JEFF PACHOUD

World Cup hopefuls France salvaged a late 1-1 draw against the United States in their final friendly before the tournament, while fellow title favourites Spain also needed a late goal to get by Tunisia 1-0.

Elsewhere, there were wins for finalists Serbia, Denmark, Morocco and Australia, while Sweden were held to a goalless draw by Peru.

Didier Deschamps named a strong side as he sought to put the finishing touches to his preparations before travelling to Russia. However, Julian Green took advantage of a Djibril Sidibe slip to fire a near post effort past Hugo Lloris on the stroke of halftime to give the visitors a shock lead.

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The US, who did not qualify for Russia, looked as if they would hold on to their advantage until Kylian Mbappe spared Deschamps’s blushes 12 minutes from time.

There remains plenty of unanswered questions for Les Bleus heading into next weekend’s opener against Australia, who beat Hungary 2-1 earlier on Saturday.

Elsewhere, fellow Group C members Denmark notched up a 2-0 win over finalists Mexico thanks to strikes from Yussuf Poulsen and Christian Eriksen, while Peru played out a stalemate with Sweden, who will also be in Russia.

It appeared as if it would be an equally frustrating night for 2010 champions Spain as they struggled to break down a Tunisia side that caused them difficulties on the counter attack.

But former Liverpool forward Iago Aspas swept in after good work from Diego Costa six minutes from the end to secure the win and ensure coach Julen Lopetegui remains undefeated in his first 20 games in charge.

Their Group B rivals Morocco brushed past Estonia 3-1, while Serbia hammered Bolivia 5-1. Newcastle United striker Aleksandar Mitrovic hit a hat-trick and former Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic netted a stunning volley in the rout.