Pogba and co impress as ten-man France defeat England to cause concern for Gareth Southgate

France………………………………………………..3

Umtiti (22’), Sidibe (43’), Dembele (78’)

England………………………………………………2

Kane (9’, Pen 48’)

Stadium: Stade de France

As the song “Don’t look back in Anger” was sung by all in respect to the families and friends affected by the London and Manchester attacks. It was reminder that if a match is won or lost, football, at least, brings people together.

 

Ousmane Dembélé’s decisive strike ended England’s season with defeat and rose similar questions surrounding the team’s attacking failures and the manager’s influence.

 

Tom Heaton was tested early on as he awkwardly cleared Thomas Lemar’s cross. But it would be England that struck first. A brilliantly cross from Dele Alli freed Raheem Sterling to back-heel and set Ryan Bertrand into space to assist Harry Kane’s easy tap-in.

 

France replied as Paul Pogba’s free-kick was met by a towering Olivier Giroud and the rebound was slotted in by Samuel Umtiti to the joy of the home crowd.

 

England failed to clear for a second time and Dembélé’s shot was again tipped straight to a French player as Djibril Sidibé accepted the invitation for his first goal for his country.

 

After the break England started strong as Alli’s flick confused the defence as Kane returned from an offside position and Alli managed to get on the end of the same flick but was fouled by Raphael Varane.

 

Referee Davide Massa, with the help of the video assistant referee (VAR), controversially sent off Varane. Kane took the resultant penalty and fired straight down the middle deceiving Tottenham teammate Hugo Lloris.

 

However, England continued to struggle. Jack Butland came on at half-time and denied Mbappé on several occasions. And when Butland failed, the bar came to England’s rescue.

 

The inevitable came as Paul Pogba’s one-touch lay off set the tone for a wonderful unselfish attack that was finished by Dembélé into the bottom corner.

 

Southgates choice to change to a back three presented plenty of food for thought but England’s continual issue if breaking sides down is not a new challenge.

 

England: Heaton, (Butland, 45) Jones, (Cresswell, 82) Stones, Cahill, Trippier, (Lallana, 76), Oxlade-Chamberlain, Dier, Bertrand (Walker, 45) Sterling, Alli, Kane. Subs: Forster, Hart, Gibson, Smalling, Livermore, Lallana, Lingard, Defoe, Rashford.

 

France: Lloris, Sidibé (Jallet, 90’), Varane, Umtiti, Mendy, (Digne, 21) Lemar, Pogba, Kanté, Dembélé, Giroud, (Koscielny, 52)  Mbappé. Subs: Areola, Costil, Kimpembe, Tolisso, Zouma, Payet, Matuidi, Rabiot, Sissoko, Thauvin, Griezmann, Lacazette.

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