Olivier Giroud gunning for Henry's France goal record

France's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates in the international friendly at Stade de France, Paris on October 7, 2020
France's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates in the international friendly at Stade de France, Paris on October 7, 2020
Image: BENOIT TESSIER / REUTERS

 Having become France's second highest all-time top scorer on Wednesday by leapfrogging Michel Platini with 42 goals, Olivier Giroud is now gunning for Thierry Henry's all-time record of 51.

Giroud netted twice in a 7-1 demolition of Ukraine in a friendly, celebrating his 100th cap in style in front of visitors' coach Andriy Shevchenko, one of his idols.

"I feel a lot of pride, it's a great honour for me and I'm happy it happened for my 100th cap," Giroud told French TV channel TF1.

"I'm happy I did it on front of Shevchenko, he was one of my favourite players, if not my favourite player when I was a teenager," the Chelsea forward said of the former AC Milan and Ukraine striker, winner of the Ballon d'Or in 2004.

Giroud said he would now take it step by step to improve his goal tally, although he hinted he was targeting Henry's record, which he set in 123 international appearances.

Asked whether he was going for the 51-goal mark, he said: "There's no limit. You have to set yourself goals. Let's see when I reach 46, 47 goals."

Portugal had to settle for a 0-0 draw at home to Spain in a heavyweight friendly on Wednesday after hammering the crossbar twice and missing a last-gasp open goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who hit a hat-trick when the two sides met in a thrilling 2018 World Cup group stage game, almost gave the European champions the lead when he sent a shot crashing against the underside of the bar early in the second half.

Midfielder Renato Sanches went even closer moments later with a first-time shot at goal.

He also hit the bottom of the bar before running away to celebrate, only to see the ball bounce on the goalline without crossing it.

Portugal's most glaring chance was still to come though, when Ruben Semedo headed a corner to the far post towards Joao Felix, who got the weakest of touches and somehow missed the target with the goal gaping in front of him.

Some 2,500 fans watched the game from inside Sporting's Jose Alvalade Stadium in Lisbon, which was at 5% capacity, the first elite match in Portugal to allow spectators back in since the coronavirus pandemic began to disrupt world football in March.

Spain coach Luis Enrique fielded an experimental starting 11, leaving out captain Sergio Ramos and handing a first international start to 19-year-old central defender Eric Garcia while midfielders Dani Ceballos and Sergio Canales also made rare starts for the national team.

Adama Traore and Jose Campana came off the bench in the second half to make their Spain debuts.

Germany midfielder Florian Neuhaus scored on his national team debut but Turkey came back three times to earn a 3-3 draw in their friendly on Wednesday.

Kenan Karaman slotted in a stoppage-time equaliser after Luca Waldschmidt fired in an 81st-minute volley that had put Germany 3-2 ahead.

Turkey twice before had levelled, with both teams missing several regular players.

"We invited Turkey to score goals and again failed to hold on to victory," Germany captain Julian Draxler said.

"We have to be more dominant. It is disappointing because at the end it is about winning and we did not succeed."

Germany also went ahead in their last two matches against Spain and Switzerland in September but both times had to settle for a draw.

Draxler's good finish from a Kai Havertz assist had put the hosts ahead on the stroke of halftime in front of 300 fans allowed in the stadium but the Turks equalised with Ozan Tufan's curled effort five minutes after the restart.

The 23-year-old Neuhaus completed a lightning quick one-two with Havertz to put Germany back ahead in the 58th.

But he then lost possession to Efecan Karaca who fired in from close range in the 67th for Turkey to draw level once more before the late goals from Waldschmidt and Karaman.

The Germans, playing without Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig players who were rested and missing several more through illness and injury, face Ukraine on Saturday and Switzerland three days later in the Nations League.

Turkey play Russia on Sunday and Serbia next Wednesday in their Nations League matches.

- Reuters

 

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