Goals from England’s Dele Alli and Wayne Rooney gave England a comfortable victory over France on an emotional night at Wembley, after last Friday’s attacks in Paris.
Roy Hodgson made seven changes to the team who started against Spain on Friday evening, bringing in Wayne Rooney to assist Harry Kane up front and starting the Spurs pair of Dele Alli and Eric Dier in midfield.
France made a handful of changes to their side too, with the two players who were affected most personally by Friday’s attacks – Lassana Diarra, whose cousin was one of the victims, and Antoine Griezmann, whose sister escaped the attack on the Bataclan – staying out of the starting XI. Both came on later as second-half substitutes.
The match got underway after a number of on-pitch tributes from both players and fans, with a rousing reception given for the French national anthem on all sides of the stadium, but the atmosphere was predictably subdued at the beginning of the game.
Despite some expectations that the match would be played at a low intensity given the situation and the match’s non-competitive status, the game began at a frantic tempo, an early mistake from Hugo Lloris giving Harry Kane a chance to play in Wayne Rooney – which ended up blocked off by a French defender.
Kane did manage to play in Rooney a little later with an excellent ball, the skipper charging forward at defenders but failing to trouble Hugo Lloris with his shot.
France’s Spurs-based keeper couldn’t keep out his young teammate Dele Alli’s shot shortly before half-time, the youngster’s 25-yard piledriver taking the slightest of deflections off Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny on its way into the top left corner.
Alli was a major force in England’s second goal too, fighting hard to win the ball before kick-starting the attack into the French half. An excellent cross from Raheem Sterling reached Rooney at the back post, where the captain swiveled to fire his volley home off the despairing Lloris’ palm.
Both sides showed promising signs for the future of their attacking lines in the second half, with Sterling and Kane constantly threatening for England; Kingsley Coman and Anthony Martial looking bright for France, the latter tricking his way deep into the England box with impressive determination before being stopped by Alli.
The majority of the talk before the match was that the football, and result, was incidental for both sides on the evening, but Hodgson will nonetheless take great heart from his young team’s performance, building toward next summer’s Euro 2016 tournament. Football, as life, continues.
England: Hart, Clyne, Cahill, Stones, Gibbs, Dier, Alli, Barkley, Rooney, Sterling, Kane.
Subs: Butland, Smalling, Jones, Walker, Bertrand, Shelvey, Mason, Lingard, Lallana, Heaton.
France: Lloris, Sagna, Koscielny, Varane, Digne, Matuidi, Schneiderlin, Cabaye, Martial, Ben Arfa, Gignac.
Subs: Mandanda, Jallet, Evra, Perrin, Griezmann, Giroud, Diarra, Mangala, Sissoko, Pogba, Coman, Costil.
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