England beat a grieving French side in a friendly thanks to goals from the new wonder kid Dele Alli and Wayne Rooney.
Before the game, a minute silence was impeccably observed and there were banners as most people sang the French National Anthem, which was played after the England one as a tribute to those who lost their lives in France.
Football was always going to be secondary on a night like this after the events in Paris last Friday. Although the French agreed to play, it would have crossed people’s minds how they are coping with the tragic events back home. However as a famous rock star said the show must go on.
On the half hour mark England sparked to life as Wayne Rooney picked up the ball from a Harry Kane pass and ran at the French defence. He hit a shot with his left foot but it was wide of goal. In the 39th minute, England pressed France. The French tried to clear their lines but Dele Alli went in with a crunching tackle to keep the ball alive. Moments later the ball fell to him on the edge of the penalty box and he let fly with a shot, which left Hugo Lloris clutching air as the ball nestled in the top corner to give England the lead. It was no more than England deserved. Dele Alli is just 19. England led 1-0 at the break.
At the beginning of the second half, England doubled their lead. Raheem Sterling got the ball down the left wing and crossed the ball to Rooney who volleyed his shot, which, flew in off Lloris. That was Rooney’s 51st goal for England.
A few minutes later Kane fizzed a shot goal wards but it was just wide. Just before the hour mark, Paul Pogba got the ball on the edge of the England area and curled a shot, which was just wide of Jack Butland’s goal.
Unsurprisingly, when Lassana Diarra came on, he was given a standing ovation due to the death of his cousin in the Paris bombing.
It was a useful exercise for England, especially for youngsters like John Stones, Eric Dyer and Dele Alli who all gave a good account of themselves. The question still being asked is will England ever be able to replicate this sort of performance in a big tournament. We must also not forget the mitigating circumstances of this game for France. We saw glimpses in the last ten minutes of what they are capable of to suggest that they will be ready for their own party in France next summer. Winning it for those who lost their lives must be motivating factor.