France too good for England in Wembley friendly

Reuters

Wed, 17 Nov 22:11:00 2010

* Benzema and Valbuena on target for France

* Substitute Crouch replies for England

France beat England 2-1 in a friendly at Wembley on Wednesday between two of the 2010 World Cup's biggest under-achievers.

Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena put the visitors 2-0 up before Peter Crouch volleyed one goal back in the 86th minute, seconds after coming on as a substitute.

The opening goal after 16 minutes was a gem with Florent Malouda and Benzema combining superbly with an exchange of passes on the left side of the penalty area before the striker rifled the ball home at the near post.

The second also illustrated France's ease on the ball and their superior passing, with Bacary Sagna crossing for Valbuena to volley past keeper Ben Foster after 56 minutes.

England coach Fabio Capello gave debuts to striker Andy Carroll and midfielder Jordan Henderson in his starting lineup.

Striker Jay Bothroyd also made his first appearance when he replaced Carroll in the second half.

England, however, were woefully short of ideas until Crouch's goal produced a late rally and they could not complain after losing at Wembley for the first time since Capello became manager in January 2008.

The home fans showed what they thought of England's dire opening 45 minutes by jeering them off at the break.

Samir Nasri and Yoann Gourcuff ran the midfield while Benzema and Malouda weaved patterns around the static English defenders almost at will.

France were hardly troubled even when England did have the ball because the home side's passing was terrible, Steven Gerrard guilty of several loose efforts which went nowhere near their intended targets.

England did come into the game more in the closing stages with Gerrard going close with a header that hit the top of the bar.

France were knocked out in the first round of the World Cup and England went out in the second round.

 

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