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Benzema stars as France beats Netherlands 2-0

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 5, 2014 at 4:58 pm •  Published: March 5, 2014

PARIS (AP) — Karim Benzema kept up his prolific form by scoring a superb goal and helping to create another as France beat the Netherlands 2-0 in a pre-World Cup friendly on Wednesday.

Running onto a pass from midfielder Blaise Matuidi in the 32nd minute, Benzema let the ball bounce over his shoulder and did not even break stride as he thumped a powerful shot over goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen's hands.

Matuidi added the second goal in the 41st, with Benzema playing a key part in a sweeping move.

Benzema has been in fine form for Real Madrid, scoring 11 in his past 13 games and winning over the fans.

It's some contrast to a few months ago, when he was struggling with Madrid and lost his place in France's starting lineup to Olivier Giroud after going 15 international games without a goal.

"He's showing the same form he does for Real Madrid. He's very precise in everything he does," France coach Didier Deschamps said. "He's feeling confident and you can see it on his face. He's beaming because he's full of confidence."

Benzema has now scored four goals in his last five matches for France and his dynamic overall performance should see him definitively reinstated as first-choice striker at the World Cup.

"Things evolve. Right now, Karim's playing at such a high level that it's beneficial for us, but that's not a reason for me to condemn Olivier," Deschamps said. "It's good to have two strikers with different profiles."

It was France's first game since it overturned a 2-0 deficit to beat Ukraine 3-0 and qualify for the World Cup in a dramatic playoff.

"It wasn't the same match but there was the same collective will to play positively," Deschamps said. "The manner in which we played and our overall attitude was good. There was a lot of expectation and it was important for us to maintain our positive dynamic in this way."

Antoine Griezmann, who has scored 15 league goals for Real Sociedad this season, made his debut while FC Porto center half Eliaquim Mangala started only his second international match. Manchester United's Robin van Persie shook off an illness to lead the Dutch attack.

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