By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – France underlined their World Cup credentials with their three forwards all involved in the goals that secured an impressive 3-1 friendly victory over Italy on Friday.
Just under two weeks before the finals start in Russia, Tunisia were held 2-2 by 10-man Turkey, Australia won 4-0 against the Czech Republic and South Korea suffered a 3-1 home defeat after Bosnia’s Edin Visca scored a hat-trick.
France showed the full extent of their firepower as defender Samuel Umtiti scored at the end of a Kylian Mbappe move while Antoine Griezmann and Ousman Dembele found the net.
The Italians pulled a goal back through central defender Leonardo Bonucci, who fired home after the returning Mario Balotelli, new coach Roberto Mancini’s favourite, saw his free kick parried into the path of the Azzurri captain.
But France were a cut above Italy, who missed out on the World Cup, with Umtiti putting Les Bleus ahead after keeper Salvatore Sirigu failed to deal with Mbappe’s shot.
Griezmann converted a second-half penalty and Dembele curled a splendid shot into the top corner as France hit the Italians on the break.
France have been drawn with Peru, Denmark and Australia in Group C at the finals starting this month.
Tunisia were held to a 2-2 draw by 10-man Turkey in Geneva after Caglar Soyuncu scored a last-minute equaliser against the African side drawn in Group G with Belgium, Panama and England.
Cenk Tosun put Turkey ahead with a penalty early in the second half before Anice Badri equalised two minutes later.
Striker Tosun was then sent off just past the hour when he became involved in a verbal altercation with a Turkish fan and had to be restrained by his team mates.
Ferjani Sassi fired the Tunisians in front with nine minutes remaining, before Soyuncu’s late strike denied them victory, but the result extended their unbeaten run to nine games.
South Korea, who have a tough group which includes Germany, Mexico and Sweden, succumbed to a disappointing defeat by Bosnia, with Visca scoring all the goals for the visitors.
Jae Sung-lee immediately levelled on the half-hour after Visca scored his first goal but the Koreans lacked efficiency in front of goal unlike Bosnia who took their chances.
Australia’s finishing was clinical as they found net with four of their five shots on target.
Matthew Leckie scored in each half either side of Andrew Nabbout’s strike with a Jakub Jugas own goal 10 minutes from time rounding off a convincing win for the Australians.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)