Touching tributes to the victims of the recent Manchester and London terror attacks made way for a surprisingly entertaining match.
VARs were utilised for the first time in an England match, and its use at the start of the second half highlighted the issues that need ironing out with the system being trialled by Fifa at selected matches ahead of wider use.
Confusion reigned for a minute as referee Davide Massa waited to hear from the video assistant team of Marco Guida and Massimiliano Irrati, with the eventual penalty compounded by Raphael Varane’s controversial red card for bringing down Dele Alli.
Prime Minister Theresa May and French president Emmanuel Macron had hot-footed it from counter-terrorism talks to see the touching reversal of the tributes paid at Wembley when the sides met days after the Paris attacks in November 2015.
The English flag was visible around the Stade de France, where the Republican Guard played a rendition of Oasis’ Don’t Look Back in Anger as fans and players showed solidarity and togetherness.
When attention turned to football, those in attendance bore witness to a superb team goal inside just nine minutes as England clicked in style.
Alli’s crossfield ball was controlled by Raheem Sterling, before smartly putting in the overlapping Ryan Bertrand with a superb backheel. The left-back sent in a low cross to the far post for Kane to finish a superb team move – a delicious opener France quickly attempted to cancel out.
Olivier Giroud’s frustration was visible after an offside call saw his superb acrobatic goal cancelled out, but Giroud was then allowed to meet a free-kick with a powerful header that Tom Heaton did well to stop. But the Burnley goalkeeper, making his first start, could not stop Umtiti rifling home the loose ball.
France capitalised on England’s fragile defence two minutes before half-time. Dembele played the ball out wide, only for Gary Cahill’s intervention to play it back into his path. Showing great composure he cut in and got away a shot that Heaton denied, only for France to score another rebound as Sidibe turned in.
Kyle Walker and Jack Butland came on for the second period, which got off to a controversial start.
Alli’s burst into the box ended under pressure from Varane, with referee Massa pointing to the spot and referring to the video assistants.
A straight red card was shown to Varane before Kane beat Tottenham team-mate Lloris from the spot.
But England struggled to make their advantage countand they were punished in the 78th minute.
The impressive Paul Pogba put through Mbappe, whose pass wide was met by a nice touch and low drive from Dembele that beat Butland..