Ousmane Dembele's first international goal helped France defeat England 3-2 in an enthralling international friendly at the Stade de France on Tuesday (13 June) night. The Borussia Dortmund attacker combined well with Kylian Mbappe to secure victory for Les Bleus and punish a needless defensive error from the Three Lions, of which there were many.
After an emotionally charged tribute, which included a rendition of Oasis classic 'Don't Look Back in Anger' and an impeccably observed minute's silence, it was England who started the brighter and took the lead with just nine minutes on the clock.
Harry Kane, who has been in simply blistering form since the turn of the year, finished a wonderfully flowing move started by his Tottenham teammate Dele Alli. The former MK Dons starlet floated a ball into the path of Sterling, who stood his defender up before backheeling the ball into the path of Ryan Bertrand. The Southampton left-back fizzed a low cross into the six-yard box, and Kane was on hand to poke the ball home.
The goal sparked France into action, and they soon dragged themselves level courtesy of some rather static defending from Gareth Southgate's men. An unmarked Olivier Giroud headed a free-kick at goal, which Tom Heaton could only parry into the path of Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti, who slammed the ball in from close range.
Led by the dominant Paul Pogba, France soon established complete authority. Dembele and Kylian Mbappe had chances to fire their country in front, but Didier Deschamps' men took the lead just before the interval thanks to another defender.
A stunning dribble from Dortmund wonderkid Dembele drew another save from Heaton, but just like the first goal the Burnley goalkeeper could only palm the ball into the path of a blue shirt. Monaco full-back Djibril Sidibe had the simple task of converting the rebound.
England responded well after half-time and their early pressure in the second period reaped rewards. Alli pounced on his own headed flick and raided into the penalty area, much to the surprise of the French defence, before being clipped by Raphael Varane, who was somewhat harshly shown a straight red card by referee Davide Massa.
Kane stepped up and drilled the spot-kick past Tottenham teammate Hugo Lloris and into the net. England had a man advantage and seemingly the momentum, but France, who sacrificed Giroud for Laurent Koscielny in light of Varane's dismissal, were unperturbed by the Real Madrid man's red card.
Wonderkid Mbappe gave John Stones a number of problems, while Dembele panicked England's back three - or five - and with 12 minutes to go the talented starlets had the final say. Eric Dier's lazy pass was cut out by Thomas Lemar, who quickly shifted the ball into the path of Pogba, who in turn fed Mbappe. The 18-year-old, arguably the hottest property in world football at the moment, laid the ball back to Dembele, who finished superbly from just inside the area.
England did not look like equalising in the dying embers of the game, with the dangerous Mbappe and Dembele taking the fight to the Three Lions. Despite playing virtually the whole second half with a man extra, Southgate's side simply didn't capitalise on the added space. France were rattled briefly but soon took advantage of their opponents' lack of ruthlessness, which will need to be rectified by Southgate if they are to have any hope of success in Russia next year.