Eng­land beat France 2-0 on night of sol­i­dar­ity at Wem­b­ley

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON: Eng­land beat France 2-0 in an emo­tional friendly at Wem­b­ley on Tues­day when more than 70,000 fans paid trib­ute to the vic­tims of the Paris at­tacks with English fans roar­ing out a spine-tin­gling ren­di­tion of the visi­tors’ na­tional an­them.

The supporters of both teams also im­pec­ca­bly ob­served a minute’s si­lence to hon­our the vic­tims ahead of a match that will be re­mem­bered more for the sym­bolic na­ture of the oc­ca­sion than for most of 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.

The play­ers were led on to the field by Prince Wil­liam and the team man­agers-Eng­land’s Roy Hodg­son and France’s Di­dier Deschamps-who car­ried wreaths while fans waved the tri­colour.

“It was a very poignant oc­ca­sion and we achieved all the things we wanted to achieve in the re­mem­ber­ance. An act of de­fi­ance was bet­ter than the other al­ter­na­tive,” said Hodg­son.

France de­fender Lau­rent Ko­scielny, who plays for Arse­nal, added: “It was im­por­tant for ev­ery­body that we played, for those who were watch­ing us and for the vic­tims. I know the English, they have a lot of re­spect for the French, we saw that tonight.” Af­ter kick­off, al­though France ap­peared to set­tle first, al­most re­lieved the pre­match ob­ser­va­tions were over, Eng­land held the up­per hand and took a grip with goals from man of the match Dele Alli and Wayne Rooney ei­ther side of half­time.

Un­der­stand­ably, af­ter a trau­matic few days, France found the go­ing tough on the Wem­b­ley turf. “The per­for­mance was not easy for us. We had a lack of ag­gres­sion and con­cen­tra­tion but I think maybe it’s a bit nor­mal,” Lloris said.

OUT­STAND­ING ALLI

Eng­land mid­fielder Alli, 19, blasted the ball past his Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur club goal­keeper Lloris into the top cor­ner for his first in­ter­na­tional goal af­ter 39 min­utes.

“He was al­most fault­less, he was out­stand­ing,” Hodg­son said of Alli, who was win­ning his fourth cap on his first start.” Rooney, play­ing in what is be­com­ing a 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.

DIF­FI­CULT NIGHT

The un­usual na­ture of the oc­ca­sion was clear dur­ing the game with the 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 es­caped un­hurt from 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. “It was a dif­fi­cult night for ev­ery­one, es­pe­cially for the French play­ers and staff,” Rooney said.

“I thought both teams han­dled it really well. I’m sure this will get shown round the world and show the to­geth­er­ness and unity in our­selves and France and in foot­ball.

“As Di­dier Deschamps said, it’s not about re­li­gion, it’s not about race, it’s about to­geth­er­ness.

“Any­one can play the game of foot­ball and hope­fully tonight shows who­ever you are around the world, you can come to­gether. We need to stand tall and stand to­gether at this tough time.” — Reuters

LON­DON: Eng­land’s Ross Barkley fights for the ball against France’s Las­sana Diarra dur­ing the in­ter­na­tional friendly soc­cer match be­tween Eng­land and France at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium in Lon­don, Tues­day. France is play­ing Eng­land at Wem­b­ley on Tues­day af­ter the coun­tries de­cided the match should go ahead de­spite the deadly at­tacks in Paris last Fri­day night which killed scores of peo­ple. — AP

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