PARIS (AFP) – Colombia, skippered by their youngest ever captain James Rodriguez, came from behind to beat the United States 2-1 in an international friendly Friday in London as France salvaged a 1-1 draw against Albania in Rennes.
The South Americans rallied with two second half goals at Craven Cottage after captain Jozy Altidore had put the United States ahead in the 10th minute when he converted from the penalty spot.
The Colombians were without injured Manchester United striker Radamel Falcao with Aston Villa’s Carlos Sanchez playing alongside 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner Rodriguez, 23, in midfield.
Carlos Bacca equalised on the hour mark, with Teofilo Gutierrez heading in the winner three minutes from time, to leave Colombia riding a three-match winning streak before their trip to Slovenia on Tuesday.
Coach Jose Pekerman hailed the World Cup quarter-finalists’ battling form.
“This was a hard game against a team that plays well,” he said. “We went behind early on but I am pleased with how my team responded.
“My players never gave up and fought until the end to get the win.
“We are on the right path and this is an important win for us.”
Jurgen Klinsmann’s Americans head into their final game of the year against Ireland in Dublin on Tuesday winless after three games, but the German was pleased with their performance against the world number three team.
“We enjoyed a very entertaining game,” Klinsmann said. “The tempo of the game and its intensity was exactly what we needed and what we were looking for.
“Overall, a tie would have been the fair result.”
In Rennes, Antoine Griezmann saved the day for France after a Mergim Mavraj header five minutes before the break had seen Didier Deschamps’ side trailing in Brittany against the 48th-ranked Albanians.
The damage could have been worse with both Ermir Lenjani (52) and Elseid Hysaj (67) missing the chance to put the visitors further ahead.
France were without injured midfielder Blaise Matuidi, while Deschamps’ new strike partnership of Alexandre Lacazette and Karim Benzema failed to spark.
Lacazette lacked the form which has seen him become the Ligue 1 top scorer with Lyon while Real Madrid star Benzema missed a golden opportunity to head home after 32nd minutes.
“It wasn’t simple,” admitted Deschamps. “It was the first time he (Lacazette) started and he wasn’t completely at ease. It’s not easy to begin, and to find your place in the team.”
“He (Benzema) was shy when he started like Alex this evening.”
Griezmann came on after 57 minutes and the Atletico Madrid forward found the net after 73 minutes to avoid a second defeat of the year going back to the World Cup quarter-final loss to Germany.
Deschamps’ side next meet the Sweden of PSG star Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Marseille next Tuesday.