England humbled by France at Wembley

England humbled by France at Wembley

A youthful England side were well-beaten 2-1 by France in a friendly international at Wembley on Wednesday night, dpa reported.

Goals from Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena gave Laurent Blanc's side a deserved victory, with Peter Crouch's late goal no more than a consolation for an England side short of experience.

Debutant Jay Bothroyd almost salvaged a draw but his header was well saved by the France goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris.

"We didn't really pass the ball and we didn't really get going until the last 15 minutes, so overall it was a bit disappointing," England captain Rio Ferdinand said.

"We didn't play to our strengths, we didn't retain possession as well as we should have but I am sure we'll work on."

With the likes of Wayne Rooney, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Joe Hart missing through injury, England manager Fabio Capello was forced to field a younger side than the one that has been performing in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Kieran Gibbs started at left back, while Newcastle United striker Andy Carroll passed a late fitness test to take his place in the attack.

England were outplayed in the first half though and found themselves behind to a goal from Benzema, who finished nicely after a neat one-two with Chelsea winger Florent Malouda.

James Milner should have done better than shoot straight at the goalkeeper after nice work from Carroll but in general, England were poor early on and jeered off at the interval.

Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri was at the heart of most things good from France and England were struggling to get enough possession to do any damage.

France then put the game beyond England with a lovely move that began inside their own half and ended with Valbuena finishing off Bacary Sagna's cross.

Steven Gerrard, England's best player on the night, went close to pulling one back for England only to see his header hit the bar, but the Liverpool captain then came off with a muscle injury after appearing to overstretch his leg when shooting narrowly wide.

Crouch came off the substitutes' bench to replace Gerrard and the Tottenham man volleyed in a sweetly-taken goal to pull one back for the home side.

The crowd tried to raise England for one final effort but France held on without too many problems to clinch a good win as they try to rebuild after their World Cup debacle, when their players went on strike and went out in the group stages.

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