PARIS - France got the better of a new-look Spain team on Thursday, a superb strike from substitute Loic Remy in the second half giving the hosts a 1-0 friendly victory. Remy fired emphatically into the roof of the net at the near post in the 73rd minute from a Mathieu Valbuena assist to set France on the way to a win that they will feel they deserved against the deposed world champions.

Missing several familiar faces, including the retired Xavi Hernandez and Xabi Alonso, Spain nevertheless maintained their style of old, controlling large periods of possession but without really threatening to break down the home defence. France, meanwhile, had the best chances and should have been in front four minutes into the second half, but a clever Karim Benzema finish at the end a flowing move was disallowed for offside, with television replays suggesting the Swiss officials got the decision wrong.

"It was an even game. They had good quicker transitions, but we had more control of the game," insisted Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, whose team face Macedonia in a Euro 2016 qualifier on Monday. "The players need more competitive games but we will improve and in general I think we showed we are a good team."

Home coach Didier Deschamps, in the first in a two-year run of friendly matches before they host the European Championship, will be pleased to see his side build on the feelgood factor that came with their run to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Brazil in July. Exactly two months after their 1-0 defeat to eventual winners Germany in Rio de Janeiro, Deschamps sent out a side that showed just one change, with Newcastle United's Moussa Sissoko starting at the expense of Yohan Cabaye.

In contrast, their opponents had three players - defenders Dani Carvajal and Mikel San Jose and Atletico Madrid midfielder Raul Garcia - making their international debuts and another in David de Gea winning just his second cap in goal with Iker Casillas, ominously, dropped to the bench.

Guus Hiddink’s much-heralded return as Netherlands coach fell flat as his side went two goals and one man down to Italy in the first 10 minutes, eventually losing 2-0. Italy, also under a new coach in Antonio Conte, took an early lead in Bari, through new Borussia Dortmund striker Ciro Immobile’s third-minute strike. Things got even worse for the Dutch when defender Bruno Martins Indi brought down Simone Zaza in the penalty area seven minutes later. Indi was somewhat harshly sent off and Daniele De Rossi converted the penalty to make it 2-0.

One man who missed the World Cup because Sweden did not qualify, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, had the consolation of reaching 50 goals for his country, a new record for the national side, as he scored both goals in the 2-0 win over Estonia. World Cup quarter-finalists Belgium beat Australia 2-0 in Liège through Dries Mertens’ deflected shot and a late Axel Witsel long-range effort.