England beat France on night of solidarity at Wembley

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 17, 2015 5:27 PM

By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - England fans joined their French counterparts in roaring out a spine-tingling rendition of the visitors' Marseillaise national anthem before their friendly soccer international which the hosts won 2-0 at Wembley on Tuesday.

The supporters also impeccably observed a minute's silence to honor the victims of the Paris attacks on Friday ahead of a match that will be remembered more for the symbolic nature of the occasion than for the action on the pitch.

Played just four days after the Islamic State's assault in Paris left 129 people dead, the English fans, along with the away supporters, showed remarkable dignity and respect.

On the field, after France appeared to settle first, almost relieved that the pre-match observations were over, England held the upper hand and took a grip on the game with goals from man of the match Dele Alli and Wayne Rooney either side of halftime.

Young midfielder Alli, winning his fourth cap for England and making his first start, blasted the ball past his Tottenham Hotspur club goalkeeper and France skipper Hugo Lloris for his first international goal after 39 minutes.

Rooney, playing in what is becoming a more and more usual deep-lying role, doubled England's lead in the 48th minute after Alli, who started the move, found Raheem Sterling who crossed for Rooney to volley home his 51st international goal.

England striker Harry Kane twice went close to scoring, including a searing long-range drive in the second half which flew just wide.

England, who played poorly in a 2-0 friendly defeat away to Spain on Friday, had not beaten France in six meetings since 1997, but the visitors never made it easy for the home side on what was obviously a difficult evening for their players.

The visitors' best chance fell to midfielder Yohan Cabaye of Crystal Palace, one of 13 players in the 23-man France squad who are playing, or have played, their club football in England. His seventh minute shot flew just over Joe Hart's crossbar.

The unusual nature of the occasion was clear throughout the match with the home crowd applauding France substitutes Lassana Diarra and Antoine Griezmann when they came on in the second half.

A cousin of Diarra's was killed in Friday's attacks, while Griezmann's sister was at the Bataclan concert venue where 89 people lost their lives.

There was hardly a foul during the game and afterwards the fans and the England team roundly applauded the France players.

(Reporting by Mike Collett; Editing by Ken Ferris)