In Review

Ten man France prove that England are still in the dark ages

Umtiti, Sidibe and Dembele sink the Three Lions despite two goals from Kane and a red card for Varane

France 3 England 2

The Three Lions were tamed by France in Paris on Tuesday evening as England conceded three goals in a game for the first time since losing 4-2 to Sweden in 2012.

In truth, the scoreline masked the gulf in class between the two side with the French playing with power, speed and precision, while England were sluggish and uncertain. The fact that France had Raphael Varane sent off in the first minute of the second half only emphasised the superiority of the hosts for whom Paul Pogba was outstanding.

The Manchester United midfielder, along with Ousmane Dembele and Kylian Mbappe, gave the England defence a torrid evening and John Stones in particular had a match to forget as he floundered in the face of the French onslaught.

"We had problems with their pace and power," admitted England manager Gareth Southgate, whose record now stands at three wins from eight matches. "That athletic ability is what makes them hard to play against. It is definitely something which France, at all age groups, have. They are blistering and they will cause you huge problems on the counter-attack if you're not supremely well organised."

Having walked out onto the Stade de France to the strains of Oasis's Don't Look Back in Anger, England were soon looking forward in hope when Harry Kane converted Ryan Bertrand's cross on nine minutes. But their early goal only galvanised France and they were soon level when Samuel Umtiti buried the rebound after Tom Heaton had saved well from Oliver Giroud's header.

Three minutes before half-time France took the lead, Dembele humiliating Stones with the speed of his feet, and although his shot was again well saved by Heaton, Djibril Sidibe was on hand to fire the ball into the net.

Kane made it 2-2 for England from the penalty spot straight after the restart after Varane had felled Dele Alli, a foul for which he was shown a red card after the intervention of assistant referee Marco Guido. 

Incensed by the decision, France raised their game and left England's three-man defence chasing shadows for the rest of the evening with Stones booked for holding back Mbappe, the only way the tormented English could contain the 18-year-old.

But it did England no good and 12 minutes from time the French got the goal they deserved, Mbappe teeing up Dembele for the decisive score of the evening. "You have got to control possession and stay calm but I thought we looked more anxious [against] ten men," said Southgate. "We just didn't manage that period of the game as well as we needed to, I thought we tired."

On an evening when only Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling resembled international players, Southgate was left looking for positives from another poor England performance. "The pleasing thing is the players are taking on board tactical information," he said. "We have not got anywhere near these teams when it comes to tournaments and finals so that is why we need to play them. We need to see the reality of where we are and you have to play against the best otherwise it masks where you are as a team."

The reality is that England remain a second tier football nation who are far from being credible challengers for next year's World Cup.

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