DELE Alli enjoyed a stunning full debut as England beat France on a night of tears, compassion and defiance.
ENGLAND - 2
Alli 39, Rooney 48
FRANCE - 0
The 19-year-old Tottenham midfielder found the top corner with a stunning 24-yard strike and played a key role in Wayne Rooney’s second-half volley.
England’s ninth straight Wembley victory was an impressive one that came against a star-studded France side.
But the real winner here at Wembley was football. Just four days after 129 people died in the Paris terror attacks, the France team and their English counterparts, as well as the home and away fans inside this famous stadium, stood shoulder to shoulder to send a defiant message to the terrorists who wreaked havoc in the French capital.
Not even the news that Germany’s friendly against Holland had been cancelled, due to the threat of a terrorist attack, could dampen the spirit of defiance at Wembley.
England supporters have had their critics down the years –just last month they were fighting with their Lithuanian counterparts in the stands in Vilnius – but last night they did not let their nation down.
All the words and pronunciations may not have been spot on, but they joined in with the singing of La Marseillaise before kick-off. There was a show of unity on the pitch, too. The teams broke ranks and mixed together and stood arm in arm for the cameras. It was a moving gesture of strength and defiance – one that drew a standing ovation from the crowd.
The supporters, many of them holding up “Pray for Paris” placards, remained on their feet for an impeccably observed minute’s silence.
With Allez Les Bleus reverberating around the stadium, the French tried to give back something to their fans. They started well.
Yohan Cabaye struck just over a stretching Joe Hart and had Gary Cahill not put in a last-ditch tackle, the Crystal Palace man would have had a clear shot from six yards.
But France, perhaps with the occasion getting to them, started to fade. Rooney, restored to the starting line-up, was keen to make an impact. He sent Laurent Koscielny into a dizzy haze with a charging run, but then shot narrowly wide.
Alli had no such problems hitting the target. The Tottenham midfielder put in a crunching tackle to win the ball and exchanged passes with Rooney before driving the ball into the far corner past a diving Hugo Lloris. The ball took a slight deflection off Koscielny, but it was going in anyway. Kane knew. He was celebrating before the ball hit the net.
Alli played a key role in the second goal three minutes after the restart.
Despite his slight frame, Alli knocked Juventus star Paul Pogba off the ball and fed it to Raheem Sterling on the left. The winger delivered a perfect cross to Rooney at the back post and he volleyed into the net through Lloris’s fingers.
Lassana Diarra, whose cousin died in the Paris attacks, received a standing ovation when he came on.
Pogba backheeled into Anthony Martial’s path, but substitute Jack Butland saved the Manchester United forward’s shot and France offered little else in the last 20 minutes.
The friendly may have been over as a contest, but still the French flags waved high up in the stands, still Allez Les Bleus could be heard in the stands.
The French had been defeated but they were still successful in delivering their message of defiance to the terrorists.
ENGLAND: Hart (Butland 46),Clyne,Cahill, Stones, Gibbs, Dier, Alli (Jones 88), Barkley (Shelvey 79),Rooney, Sterling (Lallana 68), Kane (Bertrand 79). Subs Not Used: Smalling, Walker, Mason, Lingard, Heaton.
FRANCE: Lloris, Sagna, Varane, Koscielny, Digne, Schneiderlin (Sissoko 82), Cabaye (Diarra 57), Matuidi (Pogba 46), Ben Arfa (Coman 46), Gignac (Giroud 57), Martial (Griezmann 67). Subs Not Used: Mandanda, Jallet, Evra, Perrin, Mangala, Costil.