England beat France on night of solidarity at Wembley

Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:19pm EST
 
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By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - 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 pre-match 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.   Continued...

 
Football - England v France - International Friendly - Wembley Stadium, London, England - 17/11/15

Reuters / Dylan Martinez
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