Full debutant Dele Alli and record goalscorer Wayne Rooney gave England a 2-0 win over France as Wembley united to pay its respects after the Paris terror attacks on Friday.
Fresh security fears in the aftermath of the co-ordinated assaults that killed 129 people in the French capital led to scheduled matches between Germany and Netherlands in Hannover and Belgium and Spain in Brussels on Tuesday being cancelled.
A heightened law enforcement presence – including armed police – was deployed to Wembley where the game went ahead as planned, with the outside of the stadium emblazoned in the colours of the French flag and the country’s national motto of ‘Liberte, egalite, fraternite’ clearly displayed.
The Duke of Cambridge and UK Prime Minister David Cameron joined Roy Hodgson, Didier Deschamps and their respective teams on the field for moving pre-match tributes, including a rousing rendition of the French national anthem La Marseillaise.
There was a pleasing flow to proceedings from the first whistle and the 19-year-old Alli, on a first international start alongside Tottenham team-mate Eric Dier in midfield, illuminated the contest after 39 minutes by netting from long range.
Rooney struck his 51st international goal early in the second half.
France substitute Lassana Diarra was granted a wonderful ovation around the ground when he came on as a 57th-minute substitute – the Marseille midfielder’s cousin was killed during the attacks four days ago – on an evening where a stirring demonstration of solidarity far outstripped the importance of the action on the field.
It was a friendly that began in the expected becalmed fashion, although France, whose players spent much of Friday night inside the Stade de France with their Germany counterparts after the 2-0 friendly victory was targeted by three suicide bombers, made the more assured start in London as Yohan Cabaye sent a speculative effort over the crossbar.
Visiting captain Hugo Lloris in the France goal handed an eighth-minute opportunity to Harry Kane with a badly sliced clearance, although his Tottenham club-mate’s attempt to capitalise was similarly lacking in quality.
England crafted a clear opening after half an hour – Kane’s measured through-ball finding Rooney, whose clever footwork took him beyond Laurent Koscielny to lash narrowly wide.
Koscielny tried to get a block in when Alli drove towards goal, but the youngster’s unerring 25-yard strike took a slight deflection off the Arsenal man and sailed into the top-left corner.
Hodgson’s men sought to press home their advantage and Raheem Sterling almost crowned a jinking run with a second before half-time.
Alli and Sterling were both involved as Rooney did make it 2-0 three minutes into the second half – the former muscling France substitute Paul Pogba off the ball to feed Sterling, whose left-wing cross was volleyed through Lloris by the skipper at the back post.
Confidence was now coursing through the hosts and Lloris looked on anxiously as Kane’s audacious swerving strike flew narrowly off target.
Wembley rose to welcome Diarra before Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland, on for Joe Hart at the interval, saved brilliantly from Manchester United star Anthony Martial.
Antoine Griezmann, the Atletico Madrid forward whose sister survived Friday’s siege at the Bataclan theatre where 89 people died, was also given a substitute outing as a unity of sentiment and spirit overrode the sensations of victory and defeat that would dominate such a showpiece occasion.
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