International Friendly
  • Mathieu Valbuena (53' PEN)
  • Nabil Fekir (89')
  • Dimitri Payet (90'+1')
  • Marouane Fellaini (17', 42')
  • Radja Nainggolan (50')
  • Eden Hazard (54' PEN)

Fellaini double highlights brilliant Belgium's defeat of France

Belgium marked their rise into the top two of the FIFA world rankings with an impressive 4-3 victory over France in Sunday's international friendly in Paris, with Marouane Fellaini playing an influential role.

The Red Devils climbed to their highest-ever ranking this week after replacing Argentina in second spot and they showed it was no fluke by racing into a 4-1 lead inside an hour at a shell-shocked Stade de France.

Manchester United midfielder Fellaini struck twice before half-time and Radja Nainggolan and Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard - with a penalty - notched further goals either side of a Mathieu Valbuena spot-kick for France at the start of the second period.

The hosts managed to pull two goals back right at the end through Nabil Fekir and Dimitri Payet to add some respectability to the final scoreline, but Belgium had already done enough to claim victory.

The visitors, who last beat France in May 2002 when their boss Marc Wilmots scored in a 2-1 win, took the lead in the 18th minute when Fellaini drilled home left-footed after the ball had deflected to him inside the area.

France appealed in vain for offside against the midfielder on that occasion, but they could have few complaints when the former Everton man doubled Belgium's lead two minutes before the break.

Toby Alderweireld swung over a cross from the right and Fellaini powered a downward header past Hugo Lloris from seven yards.

Fellaini was also involved in Belgium's third goal five minutes into the second half as he played the ball into the path of Nainggolan, who then lashed a 25-yard shot across Lloris and just inside the far post.

France managed to stem the tide by reducing the deficit in the 53rd minute through Valbuena's penalty, awarded for a foul by Nicolas Lombaerts on Olivier Giroud, but Belgium moved 4-1 ahead within two minutes.

Axel Witsel was fouled by Laurent Koscielny as he looked to get on the end of a nod-down, and Hazard sent Lloris the wrong way from the resulting penalty.

It could have been even worse for France as Romelu Lukaku hit the post just after the hour-mark, but the hosts did manage to save some face with a late rally.

Fekir made it 4-2 in the 89th minute when he picked up the ball from fellow substitute Paul-Georges Ntep before smashing an unstoppable shot into the roof of Thibaut Courtois' net.

And a minute later Payet side-footed a low shot inside the post from Moussa Sissoko's lay-back as France got back to within one goal, although no closer as time ran out on the Euro 2016 hosts.