England captain Wayne Rooney felt his young team-mates coped well with the emotion of the occasion on a night where football played second fiddle to a show of solidarity with France.
Ahead of kick-off a series of gestures, including a rendition of the French national anthem from all 70,000-plus spectators inside Wembley Stadium, helped pay tribute to the 129 people who were killed in a series of terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night.
Once the game kicked off Dele Alli, playing alongside Tottenham team-mate Eric Dier at the heart of midfield, struck a spectacular opener.
England 2-0 France
Breast Cancer Care International
Tuesday 17 November 2015
Wembley Stadium connected by EE
And Rooney completed the scoring with a fine far-post volley, meeting Raheem Sterling’s left-wing cross to seal a 2-0 win.
“It was a difficult night for everyone, especially the French players and staff,” said the England skipper.
“But for us to be involved in this occasion it was tough, we had a lot of young players who were excited on one hand to make their England debut, but it was a difficult game.
“I thought both teams handled it extremely well, the fans were brilliant.
“This will be shown around the world and show the togetherness and the unity in ourselves and France and that football can help a lot of people.
“Football is a global game, known around the world. It’s not about religion, it’s not about race, it’s about togetherness.
“Anyone can play the game of football and tonight we showed whoever you are around the world you can come together.
“Everyone needs to stand tall and stand together at these tough times.”
In the final international of 2015, Alli broke the deadlock on 39 minutes with a superb strike from 25 yards that flew beyond Hugo Lloris across goal and into the top corner.
Manager Roy Hodgson picked a team with an average age of 24, yet it was their most experienced star on show, Rooney, who hit the second.
But the 30-year-old’s praise was reserved for his young team-mates, and Alli in particular.
“He had an excellent game,” added Rooney.
“We said beforehand ‘go and play and express yourself’. This was a game he could go and do that.
“I though Dele was fantastic, and Eric Dier in midfield was also great.
“We played well, we stuck to our game-plan and probably had the best chances in the game and deserved to win.”