COPENHAGEN, Denmark: France striker Olivier Giroud received a welcome confidence boost as he scored twice Sunday in a 2-1 win over Denmark in a friendly match.
The 29-year-old Arsenal forward found the net with France for the first time since last March, bagging two goals in the space of two minutes.
Giroud, who has been enduring a rough patch with this club this season, opened the scoring from Anthony Martial’s assist in the fourth minute then fired home past keeper Kasper Schmeichel from close range two minutes later.
Erik Sviatchenko pulled one back for Denmark in added time.
Giroud’s brace sealed France’s fourth consecutive win. As host, France is automatically qualified for Euro 2016 while Denmark will have to go through a playoff to earn a berth at the tournament.
Giroud was booed by fans after a poor showing against Serbia in September, and his problems with France were mirrored by similar struggles at Arsenal, where he is now the second-choice forward behind Theo Walcott.
“It’s always good to score goals when you’re a striker, it’s good for confidence,” Giroud said. “Efficiency had been evading me for a while.”
Just hours after finding out they ended third in their qualifying group behind Albania, the Danes got off to an awful start.
France coach Didier Deschamps rotated his squad extensively, with only three of the players who started in the 4-0 win over Armenia midweek — Rapahael Varane, Blaize Matuidi and Antoine Griezmann — keeping their spot.
Manchester United striker Anthony Martial was handed his first start upfront alongside Giroud and Girezmann. The teenager was decisive immediately, serving up a perfect pass through the Danish defense for Giroud, whose weak shot under Schmeichel’s arm was enough to put the visitors ahead in the fourth minute.
Giroud doubled France’s lead two minutes later from a rebound after Schmeichel parried his initial volley from Lucas Digne’s cross. The ball came back into Giroud’s path and he fired it into the net.
Looking apathetic and resigned, the 1992 European champions waited nearly half an hour before Nicklas Bendtner tested keeper Steve Mandanda with a long-range strike.
Morten Olsen’s players put on a more aggressive display after the interval but their good spell did not last long as France regained control in the last 30 minutes. Martial created a good chance in the 63rd minute with a burst down the left side that left two Danish players stranded, forcing Schmeichel to a good save.
A good move from Denmark in the 68th minute saw Nicolai Joergensen beat the offside trap, but substitute Yussuf Poulsen failed to get past Mandanda. Olsen’s team looked set for a fourth consecutive match without scoring a goal when Sviatchenko gave the home fans something to cheer for with a powerful strike from the edge of the box into the top corner.
“I made a lot of changes from our last match, it’s never ideal,” Deschamps said. “We could not take our chances to kill off the match with a third goal in the second half, but we maintained the momentum.”