Finally, the World Champions have been able to break the winless streak. After failing to win in five successive international matches, France finally returned to winning ways on Tuesday evening with an Antoine Griezmann-inspired 2-0 victory over Finland.
As part of Les Bleus’ continued campaign to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the newly-loaned Atletico Madrid forward was in impressive form as he found the net in each half to put the Finns to the sword.
After two 1-1 draws against Bosnia and Ukraine, Deschamps’ tinkering paid off as France started in a usual 5-2-3 formation with Leo Dubois and Theo Hernandez as fullbacks and Griezmann, Anthony Martial and Benzema upfront.
France controlled the end game, keeping the ball high on the pitch and creating a few chances through Benzema, who had a night to remember on his visit to his former stadium, 12 years after leaving Lyon for Real Madrid.
But it was Finland who had the first clear chance through Urho Nissila, whose floating strike was tipped over the bar by Hugo Lloris.
Les Bleus, however, were on the attack and Lukas Hradecky pulled off a nice save in the 22nd minute to deny Benzema.
Griezmann found the back of the net when he whipped the ball past Hradecky with the outside of his foot after collecting a clever deflection in the box by Benzema on 25 minutes.
Finland continued to threaten on the break, but France proved clinical early in the second half.
After some more nice work from Benzema, Dubois found Griezmann in the area and the forward sneaked the ball between Hradecky and the left-hand post to give the hosts some breathing space in the 53rd.
He has now scored 41 international goals to become France’s joint third all-time top scorer alongside Michel Platini.
Shortly afterwards, Martial missed Hernandez’s cross for what would have been France’s third.
In truth, it wasn’t just Griezmann who dominated in front of a packed crowd in Paris with the hosts having 66 percent of possession and 17 shots to a lowly two contributed by Finland.
France’s victory puts them in control of the group in the first position, holding a seven-point lead over Finland, although their opponents on Tuesday do have two games in hand on Les Bleus, which could close the gap to just one point by the time the two sides meet again on Matchday 10 on November 16.
“Even it was not perfect we showed determination and with that came some more technical quality,” said France coach Didier Deschamps.
“We had more confidence, it was more like us. It’s a very important result for us, now we have to finish the job in November.”