Roy Hodgson praised Dele Alli after the teenager turned in a near “faultless” display for England against France on an emotional night at Wembley.
Three Lions boss Hodgson and his counterpart Didier Deschamps praised supporters for the solidarity and defiance shown in reaction to the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, but it was down to business for the teams as soon as the whistle blew.
From the outset Alli looked calm and composed in the centre of midfield and he capped his first start for his country with a stunning 39th-minute strike to put England into the lead.
England 2-0 France
Breast Cancer Care International
Tuesday 17 November 2015
Wembley Stadium connected by EE
And Hodgson reckons the 19-year-old Tottenham Hotspur star should be delighted with his evening’s work.
He said: “It was as close as you can get to faultless performance. I didn’t at any moment of the game think he was anything other than top class.
“It is amazing at that age - with no previous experience unless you count those 10-minute substitute appearances - for him to go in and do what he did tonight was outstanding.
“He’ll get a lot of praise for that performance - he certainly deserves a lot of praise.”
Wayne Rooney added a second for England three minutes after the break as he met Raheem Sterling’s inch-perfect cross with a fine right-foot volley.
But it was a night when the result and performances were always going to be afterthoughts, as the France national team took to the field for the first time since Friday’s atrocities.
Hodgson added: “I thought it was a very poignant occasion. It was everything I expected it to be. The way that The FA and the French FA set up the remembrance service before the game was very well done.
“The players getting together, the two sets of staff. All the things we wanted to achieve were achieved in that moment."
“I’ve already seen some text messages from a few French people I know or have worked with and they’ve been very quick to point out how well the occasion was handled for their country.
“I felt very very strong emotions when we sang La Marseillaise. Powerful emotions, when we all sang together you felt it in your heart.”
Didier Deschamps France manager
“We in England can be very proud to have put this event on. But as Martin Glenn and I have said, it was the French FA that decided the game should go ahead because they said that an act of defiance is more important than any other alternative.”
Visiting manager Deschamps also took time to compliment the solidarity shown by both sets of fans in the 71,223 strong crowd inside Wembley.
And he revealed how moved he was to hear everyone singing the French national anthem before proceedings got under way.
He said: “I would like to thank everyone for the statements of solidarity. We’ve felt very grateful, not just for the people at Wembley, but for everyone in England. We have had moment of communal grief.
“I felt very very strong emotions when we sang La Marseillaise. Powerful emotions, when we all sang together you felt it in your heart.
“You felt it in your gut. It was a special, moving, grandiose moment. A moment of communion.”