France came from behind to secure a 2-1 win over Italy, which had dominated for much of the match, in an international friendly at the Ennio Tardini.
Chances were limited in the first half but a flurry of action commenced when Stephan El Shaarawy put the hosts ahead in the 35th minute. But just two minutes later Didier Deschamps' men were level as Mathieu Valbuena netted a sublime solo goal.
The Azzurri were far more positive after the break but some inspired changes from the France coach paid dividends as Bafetimbi Gomis slotted home the winner in the 67th minute.
But it was by no means a smooth victory for Les Bleus as a long ball up from Marco Verratti was laid back to Mario Balotelli by El Shaarawy with 10 minutes played. The Manchester City striker shaped his body to shoot for the top corner, and despite beating Hugo Lloris, his effort cannoned back off the crossbar.
Although Italy was primarily in control of possession, France began to settle into the game and in the 21st minute it finally managed to test Salvatore Sirigu. Valbuena launched a quick-passing move on the edge of the area but his 20-yard shot made for a relatively straightforward save from the keeper.
Much of the match was being contested in the middle of the park, with very little action at either end. However, with 10 minutes remaining until the break the game sprung to life with two goals in quick succession.
It was Italy which deservedly took the lead as El Shaarawy latched onto Ricardo Montolivo's through-ball, displaying the striking instinct that has made him a sensation this season by slotting a first-time finish through the legs of Lloris.
Yet France replied almost instantly, and it did so in fantastic fashion. In possession on the left, Valbuena held off the challenge of Verratti on his way to the byline before cutting inside of Andrea Barzagli. Giorgio Chiellini was slow to close down the Olympique Marseille man and he took full advantage, curling a shot into the far corner to complete a sensational strike.
There was no real change to the dynamic of the match after the break, with the Azzurri largely on top and Deschamps' men limited to the counterattack.
But despite the excellent combination of Christian Maggio and Antonio Candreva down the right, Italy could not find an end product and they were punished in the 67th minute.
Two of Deschamps's substitutes were involved as Jeremy Menez dribbled down the left before the ball came to Patrice Evra. The fullback's shot on goal was completely mishit but Gomis popped up, four minutes after coming on, to divert the wayward ball into the back of the net.
Cesare Prandelli responded by making some changes of his own but the fresh combination of Alessandro Diamanti and Sebastian Giovinco failed to result in a goal. The Juventus forward was inches away from tapping his teammate's cross in with 15 minutes remaining.
Giovinco and Emmanuele Giaccherini both came close to finding an equalizer, with the latter of the pair rattling the bar with three minutes remaining, but it was France which left Parma with the victory in its final fixture of the calendar year.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Stephan El Shaarawy
- Didier Deschamps
- Mathieu Valbuena