Karim Benzema picked up a thigh injury as France rounded out their preparations for Euro 2020 with a comfortable victory inspired by Olivier Giroud.
After Antoine Griezmann put France in front against Bulgaria midway through the first half with a deflected bicycle kick, surprise call-up Benzema was replaced with 41 minutes gone after taking a blow to his right leg – one week before their opening fixture against Germany.
But Giroud made the most of his opportunity as he scored twice in the last 10 minutes to put a gloss on the scoreline in France’s final match before the tournament begins.
Manager Didier Deschamps also dispelled fitness concerns over Benzema heading into the competition – it’s not as if they need him – noting that his removal was only precautionary.
“He took a good hit on the muscle above the knee,” said Deschamps. “He stopped playing because he felt it hardening but the medical staff are at his side.
“We have a high level medical staff, we are going to do the right thing. It will get better day by day. I have no particular concern this evening. There is nothing dramatic.”
After taking his opportunity to impress, Giroud discussed the new nickname he had been given by the France squad.
“It made some of my friends laugh, because they call me that, the phoenix from Grenoble,” he told French TV channel M6.
“It is a compliment because it means that no matter the circumstances, I don’t give up. When I am called upon, the most important thing is to get the job done.
“I had a couple of good passes from my colleagues. They know where I make my movements towards and I just needed to finish well.
“When we did not have the ball, we were good with our defensive positioning. It is when we do not have the ball that we need to make the effort and remain united. Tonight, that’s what we did.”
The 34-year-old extended his contract with Champions League winners Chelsea this month and hopes to emulate that success on the international front with France, having played a crucial role by featuring in every game – albeit without scoring – in their 2018 World Cup triumph.
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