By Kieran Lovelock
England 1-2 France
England were totally and utterly outclassed in front of a somber Wembley crowd last night as the French strolled to a 2-1 win in London.
All the focus before the match was whether or not Newcastle striker centre forward Andy Carroll would start for England. But if the truth be told it was the same old story for the Tree Lions despite the debut of England’s newly found goalscoring talent.
France were on top from the outset and when Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema beat Ben Foster at the near post following some to make it 1-0 France on sixteen minutes following some clever link up play, no-one was surprised.
Fabio Capello made three changes at half time with a trio of wide players Adam Johnson, Micah Richards and Ashley Young all coming on.
However it made no difference as France continued to teach England a lesson in how to move the ball and exploit space.
The second goal quickly came when Ashley Young was caught out of position leaving Kieran Gibbs in a two versus one situation. Gibbs was exposed leaving fellow Arsenal teammate Bacary Sagna ample time and space to pick out the incoming Mathieu Valbuena, who swept it home past the ever questionable Ben Foster.
England did get one back through Peter Crouch scoring his 22nd international goal from an Ashley Young corner, but there was no hiding for England.
France were better in terms of technique and tactics leaving questions being asked once more about whether or not England produce enough technically strong players.
France’s first goal came from Joleon Lescott losing possession to be emphatically punished by a terrific piece of interplay from Malouda and Benzema- once again raising questions about Lescott’s international pedigree.
What makes this even more worrying for England is that, although they had a very young and inexperienced team out, so did France. But what France had is a sense of clarity and vision with regards to their progress after this summer’s debacle in South Africa whereas England still seem to be in turmoil. Do they stick with the likes of Terry and Lampard? Or do they look to the future with Henderson and Carroll?
Nobody seems to be able tell. But what thing is for certain and that is that under Laurent Blanc France appear to be progressing nicely for the future where as England are simply going backwards.
England (4-5-1): Foster; Jagielka, Ferdinand (Richards 46), Lescott, Gibbs (Warnock 72); Walcott (Johnson 46), Henderson, Barry (Young 46), Milner, Gerrard (Crouch 84); Carroll (Bothroyd 72)
France: (4-4-2): Lloris; Sagna (Reveillree 46), Rami, Mexes (Sakho 46), Abidal; Gourcuff (Hoarau 85), Nasri, Malouda (Payet 77), M Vila; Benzema (Remy 67), Valbuena (Diarra 68)
Man of Match: Samir Nasri