England 2-0 France
After the fatal Paris attacks of Friday night, England and France clubbed together as one in an emotional build up to the match. Dele Alli and Wayne Rooney scored brilliant goals as The Three Lions deservedly beat the Euro 2016 hosts 2-0 in front of 70,000 fans at Wembley.
After more than 130 people lost their lives to the horrific Paris attacks on Friday, including French midfielder Lassana Diarra’s cousin, the French FA’s decision for their friendly at Wembley to go ahead as planned was an extremely positive one. Prince William and Prime Minister David Cameron were in attendance as all those in capacity sung a rousing rendition of Les Marseillaise.
Nathaniel Clyne, John Stones, Gary Cahill and Kieran Gibbs made up an entirely changed back-four for England after their 2-0 defeat to Spain. Tottenham Hotspur youngsters Eric Dier and Dele Alli both made their first England starts as they paired up in defensive midfield. Wayne Rooney returned to the starting line-up, earning his 109th cap.
Over 70,000 watched as the friendly kicked off. England’s first chance came after France had lost the ball cheaply in midfield. Harry Kane spotted Wayne Rooney’s run, and found him with an inch-perfect long pass. The forward weaved inside and out of the confused Laurent Koscielny, before unleashing a brilliant effort with flew just wide of the top-left corner. Minutes before half-time, Morgan Schneiderlin’s run was halted by a crunching challenge from Dele Alli. The midfielder galloped forward, before lining himself up for a long-distance shot. He arrowed the ball into the top-left corner – beyond Hugo Lloris. The teenager celebrated what truly was a twenty-five yard wonder-goal. Assistant Manager Ray Lewington clapped gleefully on the touchline as Alli was mobbed by his teammates for what was a very memorable first international goal.
Not long after, A Rooney pass out wide to the right wing invited Kane to cross the ball. But deceiving everybody in the stadium, Kane struck the ball sweetly on the angle. Lloris scrambled down to his left to save well. France again handed England the ball, but this time it was Raheem Sterling who attempted to instigate a change in the scoreline. As he ran the length of France’s half, he cut inside, but his strike deflected just wide of the post off of Real Madrid’s Raphaël Varane. At half-time, Roy Hodgson’s side were fully deserving of their lead.
Paul Pogba, a substitute on at half-time, was tackled well in the middle of the park by Alli two minutes after the break. The Tottenham player found Sterling well on the left flank. Jamaican-born Sterling curled in a delicious cross for Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United man set himself well before unleashing a perfectly executed volley powerfully past Lloris and into the net. England had found the net twice; both were started by Dele Alli winning the ball of a France player. Rooney had scored his first open play England goal since the winner in Ljubljana in June.
Spaces kept opening up for the England players to exploit, and as Harry Kane glanced at the goal, at least thirty yard out, His stunning driven effort flew inches wide of the top-right corner. France’s best chance of the night came much later on, when United’s Anthony Martial played a clever one-two with Pogba. Martial chipped the ball on target from six-yards, but Stoke City’s Jack Butland, on for Hart at half-time, smothered the ball well, and France were left gritting their teeth. Pogba then had a few shots of his own, but none hit the target, and the full-time whistle blew.
A cleansheet against such strong opposition will have pleased Hodgson, but given the circumstances, no-one will be criticising France’s below-par performance too harshly. It ended at Wembley England 2-0 France.