Paul Pogba looked to the heavens after scoring a wonder goal as France proved too strong for Russia, beating them 3-1 in St Petersburg on Tuesday night.
The Manchester United midfielder’s father, Fassou Antoine, died last May after a long illness. He would have been 80 on Tuesday.
In tribute Pogba had written ‘Bon Anniversaire, Papa. Allah y Rahmou,’ on his t-shirt which translates as ‘Happy Birthday, Papa, may Allah have mercy on you.’ Later he tweeted: ‘Happy birthday Dad, merci for watching over me and my brothers.’
Kylian Mbappe netted twice as France overcame Russia 3-1 at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg
Mbappe is congratulated after wrapping up the proceedings by scoring France’s third goal of the night in Russia
Paul Pogba celebrates after scoring a fantastic free-kick just four minutes into the second half on Tuesday night
The former Juventus man is congratulated by his team-mates after doubling France’s lead early in the second period
Pogba fired home a free-kick into the left-hand corner from 30 yards out to give France some breathing space
Russia: Lunev, Neustadter, Granat, Kudryashov (Cheryshev 83), Samedov (Rausch 45), Golovin, Erokhin (Shvets 76), Dzagoev (Miranchuk 54), Zhirkov (Smolnikov 45), Aleksey Miranchuk (Zabolotny 66), Smolov
Scorers: Mbappe 41, 83, Pogba 48
France: Lloris, Pavard, Koscielny, Umtiti (Kimpembe 80), Lucas, Pogba, Kante (Tolisso 66), Rabiot (Matuidi 81), Dembele (Giroud 72), Mbappe (Lemar 86), Martial (Griezmann 58)
Scorers: Smolov 68
Pogba has struggled in a disappointing campaign under Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, but the stunning free-kick which prompted his emotional tribute came four minutes into the second half and put France in control at 2-0 up.
Russia, beaten 3-0 by Brazil in Moscow on Friday, have now failed to win any of their last seven matches, while France bounced back from their 3-2 defeat by Colombia in Paris.
Les Bleus made an indifferent start following a minute’s silence in memory of those killed in Sunday’s Kemerovo shopping mall fire and could have found themselves behind in the 15th minute.
Midfielder Alan Dzagoev, one of five Russian changes, teed up Smolov, but the striker’s first-time shot was well saved by Hugo Lloris.
Deschamps made seven changes after letting slip a two-goal lead against Colombia on Friday, and his side showed little urgency until Mbappe somehow missed their opening chance in the 27th minute.
Anthony Martial raced on to a long ball over the top and when his effort was deflected into Mbappe’s path, the Paris Saint-Germain forward shot tamely at goalkeeper Andrey Lunev from 10 yards.
Mbappe gave the visitors the lead just before half-time after cutting inside in the area before striking home
The Paris Saint-Germain star is congratulated by Manchester United’s Pogba, who created the assist for the striker
Mbappe pictured firing the ball past Russia goalkeeper Andrey Lunev to give the French the 1-0 advantage
The 19-year-old striker wheels off to celebrate after giving France the advantage in the 41st minute of the friendly
France began to dominate possession and were rewarded for their superior creativity when Mbappe fired them into a 40th-minute lead.
Pogba, back in the starting line-up, threaded a perfectly-weighted pass through for Mbappe, who checked to lose his marker and buried a shot inside Lunev’s near post.
Mbappe went close to extending the visitors’ lead just before the break, but his effort from Martial’s cut-back lacked the power to beat Lunev.
France struck their second four minutes after the restart. Pogba was fouled by Aleksandr Erokhin 25 yards out and the Manchester United star brilliantly curled home the subsequent free-kick into the bottom corner.
Russia wasted a golden chance to get back in the game in the 58th minute when centre-half Vladimir Granat blazed wide with the goal at his mercy after Lloris had parried Smolov’s initial shot following a corner.
Fyodor Smolov gave Russia a brief lifeline in the 68th minute after striking a left-footed shot past Hugo Lloris
Smolov (right) runs the ball back to the halfway line after scoring in the 68th minute for the hosts
Aleksander Yerokhin of Russia shoots at goal as PSG midfielder Adrien Rabiot attempts to close him down
Rabiot and Samuel Umtiti help each other up during the early stages of the international friendly
Russia then threatened a grandstand finish when they pulled one back in the 68th minute.
Half-time substitute Igor Smolnikov picked out Smolov with a superb diagonal pass and the latter kept his composure to finish at the far post.
But with seven minutes left, Mbappe put the result beyond doubt, showing superb technique to make space in the penalty area before drilling a low shot between Lunev’s legs.
Russia and France observe a minute’s silence before the match in memory of the victims of a Siberian shopping mall fire
Antoine Griezmann sits on the bench moments before kick-off in the stadium that will host one of the World Cup semi-finals