Griezmann and his team-mates celebrated in front of the supporters at Allianz Riviera Stadium in Nice
On a night the French frontline flourished, Paul Pogba’s stalling career took another concerning step as his departure from the field was jeered by the home crowd during France’s 3-1 victory over Italy.
Pogba failed to influence proceedings on an evening when many of his team-mates excelled. Pogba was often inhibited, as one strike from distance very nearly went out for a throw-in and when he was replaced by Steven N’Zonzi towards the end of the game, a minority of supporters appeared to whistle the Manchester United midfielder on his way off the pitch.
Pogba has endured a troublesome end to the season, as he temporarily lost his place under Jose Mourinho before also being left on the bench when France lost against Colombia in March.
Ousmane Dembele scored France’s third goal and celebrated with a chest bump with Paul Pogba
The Barcelona winger scored the pick of his side’s goals following a blistering counter attack from his side
Salvatore Sirigu could do nothing to stop Dembele’s controlled strike as it nestled into the top corner
Paul Pogba was jeered by the home fans after an underwhelming display when he came off for Steven N’Zonzi
When asked about the whistle after the game, manager Didier Deschamps said: ‘I won’t dwell on it, but it would be better if it did not happen.’
The France boss added: ‘This was his return. He did not do everything well but he did allow the team to be effective defensively.’
Pogba’s ordeal threatens to undermine France’s progress, particularly as so many of their finest talents are peaking at just the right moment.
Ousmane Dembele scored the pick of the goals, as he sealed victory with the third goal by curling a dipping finish that eluded the reach of Italian goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu. He looked upwards to the heavens and was swiftly joined by his strike partners Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.
The trios combined worth could, by the end of the summer, total in excess of £400m. Dembele cost Barcelona £135m to prise away from Borussia Dortmund last summer, PSG’s eventual sums for Kylian Mbappe could total £166m, and Barcelona are set to conclude a £100m transfer for Griezmann in the coming weeks.
Lloris, Pavard, Rami, Umtiti, Hernández (Mendy), Tolisso (Matuidi), Kanté, Pogba, Mbappé (Thauvin), Griezmann (Giroud), Dembélé (Lemar)
Kimpembe, Varane, N’Zonzi, Mandanda, Fekir, Sidibe, Areola
Goals: Umtiti (8), Griezmann (29), Dembele (63)
Sirigu, D’Ambrosio (Florenzi), Caldara, Bonucci, De Sciglio, Pellegrini (Cristante), Filho, Mandragora, Berardi (Insigne), Balotelli (Belotti), Chiesa (Zappacosta)
Romagnoli, Zaza, Bonaventura, Perin, Rugani, Politano, Verdi,
Goals: Bonucci (36)
Dembele cost Barcelona £135m to prise away from Borussia Dortmund last summer, PSG’s eventual sums for Kylian Mbappe could total £166m, and Barcelona are set to conclude a £100m transfer for Griezmann in the coming weeks.
They dovetailed beautifully by the French Riviera on Friday night, as Mbappe forced the first, Griezmann scored the second and then Dembele served a reminder of his talents with his handsome third.
France were ahead inside only eight minutes. Benjamin Pavard swung in a curling deep cross, where Kylian Mbappe pulled and struck a left-footed volley that was superbly saved by Salvatore Sirigu, only for Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti to tap the ball in.
When the mood takes this French team, they can be quite irresistible. Mbappe and Griezmann, in particular, offered tantalising glimpses of their quality.
Mbappe burned an Italian defender for pace in the penalty area and his low driven strike was saved well once more. Pogba then played a splendid reverse pass crossfield, where Mbappe strode onto the ball and whipped it first-time but narrowly wide of the post.
Mbappe and Griezmann manipulated the ball out of a tight spot in their own half, spearheading a counter-attack that came to life when Lucas Hernandez rampaged down the left from full-back.
The defender was invited into the penalty area, where he was chopped down by Danilo D’Ambrosio. Griezmann clinically finished from the spot.
Samuel Umtiti scored the opening goal of the game to give France the lead with a straightforward finish
Kylian Mbappe’s effort at the back post fell into the path of Umtiti and the Barcelona defender made no mistake
The central defender showed great anticipation and found himself in the right place at the right time
Two goals up midway through the first half and France briefly threatened to turn this into a rout. Yet for all their individual brilliance, this is a France team that sparkles in moments, rather than for extended periods of games, and they allowed Italy a way back into the contest.
While France plot their ambitions for world domination, the Italians did not qualify for the tournament in Russia and this match was all about configuring their new direction under Roberto Mancini.
The manager, therefore, will have been encouraged that his side responded well. They stood up to the challenge instead of wilting and despite eventual defeat, this felt like a step forward for Mancini’s new team.
Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot after checking VAR for the penalty decision given to France in the first half
Antoine Griezmann slotted the penalty to double his side’s advantage after Lucas Hernadez was fouled in the box
Mario Balotelli’s powerful free kick from just outside the area was parried by Hugo Lloris into the path of Leonardo Bonucci
In the bright midfielder, Jorginho, who is on the brink of a move to Manchester City, fresh optimism was provided. Jorginho, who grew up in Brazil but is eligible to play for Italy, passes the ball with confidence and presses hard to recoup possession. In short, he is a Pep Guardiola dream.
The more surprising inclusion has been the return – and the newfound maturity of Mario Balotelli.
For those who recall the days when Mancini and Balotelli resembled WWF competitors at Manchester City’s training ground, Balotelli’s renaissance may be surprising but the coach has always had a soft spot for the striker.
The veteran Italy defender made no mistake with the rebound as the visitors pulled one back before half time
Bonucci celebrated his goal with Rolando Mandragora as Roberto Mancini’s team got back into the match
Balotelli responded well to Italy’s 2-0 deficit, winning a free-kick with a sublime piece of skill. In truth, Italy felt they should have been awarded a penalty for the original incident, and despite English referee Anthony Taylor calling for video assistant and replays appearing to show the foul was inside the box, the officials stuck with the original call.
Balotelli struck the set-piece, which was too hot for Hugo Lloris and it rebounded kindly into Leonardo Bonucci’s path.
In the second-half, Italy were unable to make headway to build on their response. Dembele should have had his crowning moment straight after the berak as he sprinted down the left-flank and checked back onto his right foot, leaving two Italian defenders on their backside, but his strike on goal clipped the bar on its way over. His goal would arrive shortly after.
Mario Balotelli fends off the challenge from Corentin Tolisso as the powerful Italian forward assesses his options
Kylian Mbappe is tackled by Mattia Caldara as the PSG forward surges forwards with possession
Roberto Mancini’s side were well beaten and France look like they will take some stopping at the World Cup