these games are pointless waste of time . nobody cares who wins and the players are just trying not to pick up injury . nice for becks to get to 100 but lets hope he doesnt get any more as his legs have gone , he was never quick but now he is pedestrian
A first half penalty won by Nicolas Anelka and converted by Franck Ribery was enough for France to pip England in an uninspiring affair at the Stade de France in Paris - on an evening to forget for skipper Rio Ferdinand and centurion David Beckham.
A low-key first half with few chances for either side was finally brought to life just after the half-hour mark when Nicolas Anelka won a penalty after being brought down by England goalkeeper David James.
A great through pass by Clerc saw Anelka race past his club captain John Terry and slip the ball past David James who was too slow to react and brought the striker down leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot. Ribery then stepped up to send James the wrong way and put France into a 1-0 lead.
Despite going a goal behind England failed to respond and went into the break at half time trailing. Although they had their fair share of possession the away side struggled to create any clear cut chances with Joe Cole, Gerrard and Rooney all failing to trouble a well-organised French defence.
France, in contrast, were looking dangerous on the flanks with the pace of Malouda and Ribery worrying England full-backs Ashley Cole and Wes Brown and a lively Anelka proving a handful for Ferdinand and Terry.
Capello shuffled his pack at half-time with Rooney, Gerrard, Terry and Joe Cole being replaced by Owen, Crouch, Downing and Lescott to give England some much needed bite up front and some extra width in midfield. However it was France who made the better start to the second half with Anelka and Malouda both going close.
The home side grew into the game in the second half, dominating possession and trying to slide passes through the England defence for Anelka. England in contrast were looking sloppy with Crouch and Owen struggling to make their mark on the game and Downing proving wasteful in possession.
David Bentley eventually replaced Beckham just after the half hour mark and it will be interesting to see whether the LA Galaxy man did enough to persuade Capello that he merits his place in the side. Fortunately for the former England captain Bentley had little opportunity in his half hour to suggest he could be a better option.
The second half finally dwindled to a close, the home side dominating possession and England struggling to assert themselves or fashion any chances. Domenech replaced Anelka and Trezeguet with Cisse and Govou, but the substitutions did little to change the pattern of the match which remained largely with the home side forcing the English back but with both goalkeepers having little to do.
For England the night was always going to be overshadowed by David Beckham earning his 100th cap for his country. In truth Beckham had a quiet, if unspectacular game, picking up a yellow card in the first half before being replaced just after the hour mark by Bentley.
Yet Beckham's performance largely reflected that of the whole team; England were a little disappointing and lacked penetration and creativity, particularly in the final third. Although Capello will not be too disheartened by the performance he will be aware that there he has a lot of work to do, especially against opposition of the quality of France.
Meanwhile France, who despite missing Henry, Vieira and Benzema still fielded a strong side will be extremely happy with this result in the run up to Euro 2008. Ribery and Malouda did enough out wide to suggest they will cause problems in the summer and Anelka looked lively up front.
Trezeguet, in contrast, had a quiet game and did little to improve his chances of making the squad this summer. Despite being drawn in the so-called â€˜Group of Death' the French will expect to go far this summer. England can only look on enviously.
I thought we played reasonably well until France scored. It was a nervy first few minutes from England but we seemed to take control of the game and had a few headed chances to score.
James made the wrong decision in rushing from his line - Anelka was just too quick for him - and he dived the wrong way for the penalty. After that England looked lost. We created little and the 2nd half performance was very poor aside from a few skilful moves by Crouch.
Owen looked well off the pace - especially compared to the pace of Anelka and Ribery who caused us problems whenever France counter-attacked. I'm not keen on having 2 defensive midfield players and although Barry tried to get forward he often lost the ball and got caught out of position.
Capello needs more times with the players but he's only got 2 more games before the World Cup qualifers start and I have to admit that I'm worried.
Coupet: 6.0 - Rarely troubled. Dealt with crosses quite well when needed.
Clerc: 7.0 - Was never out of position and distributed well. Played a magnificent through ball for Anelka's penalty run.
Abidal: 6.5 - Defensively solid against a paltry attack, got forward in support throughout the match.
Gallas: 6.5 - Did not have much to content with all night. Rooney posed no problems in the first half while he Crouch was uncomfortable under aerial pressure.
Thuram: 6.0 - Used all his experience to provide an adequate shield for his defensive colleagues. Was never under any immediate danger.
Toulalan: 8.0 - One of the home side's best performers. He was metronomic in central midfield and seems to be learning an infinite amount from Makelele. Looks to be an immense prospect for club and country.
Makelele: 7.0 - Used this occasion as an exercise in tutelage to Toulalan. Rarely missed a tackle and was always an outlet. Provided accurate pass after accurate pass.
Ribery: 8.0 - Ran much of France's attacking play. Lively in possession and never shirked responsibility. Coolly taken penalty.
Malouda: 7.0 - Looks a different player for France than Chelsea. Seemed at ease in his surroundings and was always willing to provide an attacking option.
Anelka: 8.5 - Such a threat. Constantly harassing his opponents and looked to be the only genuine French goal threat throughout. Made clever runs, mazy dribbles and provided outlets all evening. Man of the Match.
Trezeguet: 5.0 - Struggled. Barely had a touch of the ball in a game he would regard as a missed chance to impress.
Govou: 6.5 - Struggled to make an impact in a limited amount of time.
Cisse: 7.0 - Looked eager to make an impression and caused fleeting problems for England on the break.
James: 6.0 - Slow off the mark on a couple of occasions, including his up-ending of Anelka for the penalty. As usual, a reliable shot stopper.
Brown: 6.5 - Looked a little jittery at times but was generally solid in a position that he does not favour.
A Cole: 6.0 - Would like to have contributed more in attack, struggled to contain Ribery.
Ferdinand: 6.5 - Made no mistakes in his debut as captain. A solid individual performance, but not a game he will remember the way he would have wanted to.
Terry: 5.5 - Blind-sided by Clerc's clever pass - which also exposed his lack of pace - but otherwise had a decent game.
Hargreaves: 6.0 - Did not provide the kind of shield that Capello requires. In possession however, he was consistent.
Barry: 6.5 - Lots of energy and enthusiasm from the Aston Villa captain. Used the ball well.
Beckham: 5.0 - Looked unfit as he struggled to adjust to the pace of the game. Reluctant to play simple passes.
J Cole: 6.0 - A quiet game from a fantastic player. Showed only glimpses of his vision and passing.
Gerrard: 5.0 - Anonymous. Made no meaningful contribution apart from two mistimed first half headers.
Rooney: 6.0 - Struggled because his team-mates failed to involve him adequately. Eager to win possession and distribute, unfortunately for England, this was more often than not in the wrong areas.
Crouch: 6.5 - Made the ball stick when play involved him and was willing to shoot from distance.
Owen: 4.5 - Hard to recall a significant contribution.
Lescott: 6.0 - Coped well alongside Ferdinand, did not have an opportunity to make a mistake or a telling contribution.
Downing: 6.5 - A good option for Capello to have. Provided natural width on the left; crossing was occasionally wayward.
Bentley: 6.5 - Showed some nice touches and vision but did not have a chance to influence the game.
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