England secure muted victory over France
By Niall Clarke
- England defeat France 2-0 at Wembley
- Dele Alli and Wayne Rooney scored the goals for England
- Tributes were paid to those who died in the Paris attacks on Friday
London, England- Rarely has a game of friendly football meant so much. England were 2-0 winners over France, but just days removed from the Paris attacks, there was no real victory to be had.
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Wembley was drench in the colours of the French flag as the tributes poured in to the 129 who tragically lost their lives in the Paris terrorist attacks on Friday.
Prior to kick off, Prince William, Roy Hodgson and France manager Didier Deschamps laid flowers pitch side. The England supporters were encouraged to learn the words of ‘La Marseillaise’ to show solidarity, and when the anthem played, the 70,000 in attendance sang along.
There was a standing applause after the anthems and a minutes silence in remembrance of those who lost their lives. One half of the stadium create a mosaic of the French flag.
The match was originally in doubt following Friday’s events. The Stade De France was a target of the attacks, and the game between France and Germany that night had to be called off. But the French Football Association decided to go ahead with the fixture, as it would have ‘massive global significance’.
The match itself, which England won 2-0, was over-shadowed by events off the field. The game was irrelevant. It was a show of solidarity and togetherness between two traditional rivals- two nations united as one.
When the action got underway, it was the Three Lions who impressed. Dele Alli scored a spectacular goal to give England lead minutes before half time. Wayne Rooney added a second not too long after the interval.
French midfielder Lassana Diarra lost his cousin in the attacks, and when he came on as a second half substitute he was met with a standing applause. Many were surprised he even had the courage to play.
France progressively got better as the match went along, but a strong showing from the back four and substitute goalkeeper Jack Butland kept them at bay.
Victory for England on the pitch, but that did not mean anything in the grand scheme of things. The victory was for everyone involved in the event for the show of respect and togetherness. The match was not between France and England. It was between 22 men on a field, in front of a 70,000 strong audience.
“It was always going to be a difficult night for everyone, especially the French players and staff.” Said England captain Rooney in his post-match interview with ITV Sport
“For ourselves to be involved in this occasion was tough, the young players were excited but it was a difficult game for them.
I thought both teams handled it extremely well. The fans were brilliant. This will be shown round the world and will show unity. Football is a global game and, as Didier Deschamps said yesterday, it is not about religion or race. We need to stand tall together in these tough times.”
French captain Hugo Lloris thanked the fans in his post match interview.
“First of all we want to thank all the England people in the stadium for their respect.” The Tottenham Hotspur number one told ITV
“The performance was not there for us and we had a lack of aggressiveness and concentration. It was more about solidarity. Life is still going on so we need to carry on.”
Germany vs Holland friendly postponed due to Bomb threat
In Hannover, a friendly between Germany and Holland was postponed due to a bomb threat in the stadium.
Evacuation began less than two hours before kick-off due to the security threat which has been described as an “intention to ignite explosives”
German chancellor Angela Merkel was set to attend the game at the HDI Arena, and the German players were put under police protection.
Belgium’s friendly with Spain was also called off due to security fears yesterday.
England will play friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands next year prior to Euro 2016.
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