O90 – Dele Alli shines for England, as West Ham await.

Wayne Rooney led out, as captain, the youngest England team since 1959 to face a France side wracked with an acute sense of sorrow. The attacks in Paris had, so we thought, meant the end for this friendly match, but a decision to stage the tie was made amid the mourning, as a showing of defiance perhaps more than anything else. Rooney was England’s leader on paper, but Tottenham’s Dele Alli, just 19 years old, led by example, on his first senior England start. With club teammate Eric Dier also making his first start for the national team in a reserved midfield role, Alli was allowed to glide elegantly and upright, as he always is, from the centre into more threatening forward areas. Just as Dier slid back to become a quasi-centre back when the situation called for it, Alli slid forward into the box, adding a supplementary, retractable barb to the England attack. It is a fine, long-limbed England team with John Stones, Alli and Harry Kane forming a compelling spine.


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