Football: Alli stars as England defeat grieving France

England's Dele Alli celebrates scoring their first goal .
England's Dele Alli celebrates scoring their first goal . PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Nineteen-year-old midfielder Dele Alli stole the show as England beat a grieving France 2-0 on Tuesday in a poignant friendly at Wembley played four days after the Paris attacks.

Making his full debut, the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder opened the scoring with a fine 25-yard strike in the 39th minute and then played a key role as captain Wayne Rooney added a second goal early in the second half.

It was the first time England had beaten France in seven games - a run stretching back to June 1997 - but the result was of little significance on a night thick with emotion at England's national stadium.

Prior to kick-off, many in a crowd of 71,223 stood to sing the French national anthem in tribute to the 129 people killed and more than 350 injured in last Friday's attacks in the French capital.

Players from both sides wore black armbands and the game was preceded by a solemnly observed minute's silence, while armed police patrolled outside.

Lassana Diarra, whose cousin was killed in the attacks, and Antoine Griezmann, whose sister escaped the massacre at the Bataclan concert hall, came on as second-half substitutes for Euro 2016 hosts France.

Marseille midfielder Diarra, a former player with English sides Chelsea, Arsenal and Portsmouth, was granted a warm round of applause as he came on.

A third-tier player with Milton Keynes Dons as recently as last season, Alli was rewarded for some assured displays in the centre of Spurs' midfield with his first international start and he did not disappoint manager Roy Hodgson.

Six minutes before half-time, and having won the ball back moments earlier, he took aim from 25 yards with a shot that took a slight nick off defender Laurent Koscielny and flew into the top-left corner.

Three minutes into the second half he fended off France substitute Paul Pogba at the start of a move that culminated in Raheem Sterling teeing up Rooney to crisply volley his 51st England goal past Hugo Lloris.