England boss Gareth Southgate derided his side’s game-management after an error-strewn Three Lions succumbed to 10-man France in an entertaining friendly in Paris.
France were forced to play a man light for the vast majority of the second period following the dismissal of Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane but conjured victory through an Ousmane Dembele winner 12 minutes from time.
Skipper Harry Kane had earlier given England the lead and then restored parity from the penalty spot after France had drawn level and seized the initiative through goals from defensive duo Samuel Umtiti and Djibril Sidibe.
But after a night which started with a rendition of the Oasis song Don’t Look Back in Anger as the Stade de France paid its respects to the victims of the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester, Southgate opted not to sugar-coat defeat.
“I think the way we managed the period from 2-2, when France were down to 10 men, that was an opportunity to go on and win the game,” said Southgate. “The minimum you should come out with is the 2-2.
“The best way to manage the game is keep possession of the ball, make the opposition run and make sure we were able to press because we’ve got a man extra. But we didn’t manage that period of the game well.”
Kane also refused to mince his words. He said: “Scoring two goals away from home in France should be enough. We’ve got to find a way to win, especially when they went down to 10 men. We just weren’t good enough.”
England, who made six changes from Saturday’s draw with Scotland, had only scored nine goals in their previous 11 matches against France, with three of those strikes coming from Tottenham players. The Spurs connection was at work again as the Three Lions surged into a well-worked ninth-minute lead.
Dele Alli picked out Raheem Sterling and his backheel released the overlapping Ryan Bertrand, whose low cross was side-footed beyond his Tottenham team-mate Hugo Lloris by Kane.
France wasted a glorious opportunity shortly after the quarter of an hour mark when Monaco’s much-hyped teenager Kylian Mbappe hared down the left flank, only for his clever pass into the penalty area to be sliced wide by Dembele.
Les Bleus, however, did not have long to wait for a leveller as Barcelona centre-half Umtiti slotted a first international goal beyond Tom Heaton after the Burnley stopper had parried a towering header from Arsenal hitman Olivier Giroud.
Heaton had denied Mbappe with his right foot by the time France powered ahead shortly before the break. Monaco right-back Sidibe forced the ball home after Heaton had thwarted Dembele.
The clash witnessed the trial of a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) by world governing body Fifa and Italian referee Davide Massa used the technology 34 seconds into the second period. He awarded a penalty for a trip on Alli but consulted the VAR before sending off Varane.
Kane rattled his spot-kick straight down the middle of Lloris’ goal for his 11th strike in his last five matches for club and country.
Mbappe then struck the England crossbar on 70 minutes after side-stepping Eric Dier, while Gary Cahill was on hand to clear a rebound effort from Thomas Lemar off the line.
But under-staffed France continued to attack and settled matters on 78 minutes. The concession of cheap possession by Dier ended with Mbappe finding Dembele and the Dortmund forward lashed low past substitute goalkeeper Jack Butland.