Benzema wheels away after opening the scoring for France at Wembley
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Wembley
A late England rally could not disguise a gulf in class and technique as France earned a deserved victory at Wembley.
Fabio Capello gave youth its chance in the shape of debutants Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson - but the friendly provided few positives for the coach as France's quality and composure left England distinctly second best.
Karim Benzema emphasised the visitors' superiority with an early goal, and once Mathieu Valbuena swept home a second from Bacary Sagna's cross just after the break, England were left with too much work to do.
Peter Crouch, on as substitute for the injured Steven Gerrard, capped an England surge of sorts with his 22nd goal in 42 England appearances, but France's narrow margin of victory did not truly reflect the dominance they exerted for so much of the game.
Carroll was one of the few bright spots in an England display that was dismal for long periods, his endeavour on a meagre supply earning warm applause when he was substituted with 20 minutes left.
Sunderland's Henderson endured a difficult night, but so did many of his more experienced England team-mates in the face of France's precise passing style and outstanding movement.
Cardiff City's Jay Bothroyd also won his first cap as substitute, but there were few memories to cherish for any of the England camp.
And if this game was a measure of how England and France have recovered from traumatic World Cup campaigns in South Africa, then it is clear France coach Laurent Blanc has taken his team to a more advanced stage of rehabilitation than Capello.
Carroll was passed fit and started, despite Newcastle's reservations about his groin injury - and he was one of the few pluses in a harrowing first 45 minutes for England.
With Everton's Phil Jagielka struggling in an unfamiliar right-back slot, France seized control from the start and refused to relax their grip.
Florent Malouda and Yoann Gourcuff had already brought saves from England keeper Ben Foster, called in after Joe Hart suffered a back spasm in training, before France got the goal they deserved after 16 minutes.
Jagielka and Rio Ferdinand were moved out of position by a slick exchange between Malouda and Benzema before the Real Madrid striker drilled in a low drive which beat Foster at his near post.
Newcastle's Carroll battled well in what was often a one-man fight with the France defence, but such was the superiority of the visitors in all parts of the pitch that he was rarely afforded any decent service.
Crouch (far right) pulls one back for England late on
Capello acted during the interval by sending on Adam Johnson, Ashley Young and Micah Richards for Theo Walcott, Gareth Barry and Ferdinand - only to see any serious hope of a revival extinguished by France's second goal 10 minutes after the break.
It was another move which highlighted the difference between the sides as Sagna crossed invitingly for Valbuena to time his run perfectly and glide a finish low into the corner beyond Foster.
England caused minor anxiety for France after 62 minutes when Gerrard chased Johnson's free-kick to the far post, but his header landed on top of the bar.
Bothroyd was then introduced for his debut with 20 minutes left, and was almost presented with the chance to mark his entrance with a goal, but he was just unable to get the final touch after Johnson's shot caused an outbreak of mass confusion in the French penalty area.
After Samir Nasri fired a rising shot against the post, England coach Capello was forced to introduce Crouch when Gerrard pulled up and limped off with what looked like a hamstring injury.
And Crouch made an instant impact when he stretched out a leg at the far post to turn Young's corner beyond France keeper Hugo Lloris.
England then attempted to snatch an unlikely draw in a frantic final period, but France deservedly survived as the current limitations on the resources available to Capello were exposed.
90:00+5:30 The referee brings the game to a close.
90:00+2:53 The ball is sent over by Adam Johnson, Adil Rami makes a clearance.
90:00+2:43 Centre by Stephen Warnock, Hugo Lloris makes a save.
90:00+2:05 Adam Johnson crosses the ball, Anthony Reveillere makes a clearance.
90:00+1:25 Jay Bothroyd takes a shot. Save made by Hugo Lloris.
90:00+0:51 Foul by Guillaume Hoarau on Adam Johnson, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Adam Johnson.
90:00+0:38 Adam Johnson takes a shot. Mamadou Sakho gets a block in.
89:16 Peter Crouch challenges Yann M'Vila unfairly and gives away a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Anthony Reveillere. Jay
Bothroyd concedes a free kick for a foul on Alou Diarra. Adil Rami takes the free kick.
88:49 Guillaume Hoarau takes a shot. Save made by Ben Foster.
88:22 The assistant referee signals for offside against Loic Remy. Free kick taken by James Milner.
86:25 Foul by Guillaume Hoarau on Phil Jagielka, free kick awarded. Phil Jagielka takes the free kick.
85:49 Substitution (France) makes a substitution, with Anthony Reveillere coming on for Bacary Sagna.
85:08 Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Ashley Young, assist on the goal came from Ashley Young.
85:08 GOAL - Peter Crouch:England 1 - 2 France Peter Crouch scores a goal from inside the six-yard box to the top right corner of the goal. England 1-2 France.
84:14 Substitution Guillaume Hoarau comes on in place of Yoann Gourcuff.
83:51 Substitution Steven Gerrard goes off and Peter Crouch comes on.
82:45 Effort from the edge of the area by Samir Nasri goes wide of the right-hand upright.
82:03 Samir Nasri has an effort at goal from inside the penalty box hitting the post.
80:13 The referee blows for offside against James Milner. Hugo Lloris takes the free kick.
79:45 Steven Gerrard takes a shot. Save by Hugo Lloris.
76:31 Substitution Dimitrie Payet on for Florent Malouda.
74:30 Joleon Lescott takes a shot. Blocked by Eric Abidal. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Ashley Young from the left by-line,
Steven Gerrard takes a shot. Clearance by Eric Abidal.
74:01 Alou Diarra concedes a free kick for a foul on Adam Johnson. Indirect free kick taken by James Milner.
71:32 Substitution Stephen Warnock on for Kieran Gibbs.
Correction - 71:10 Substitution Jay Bothroyd is brought on as a substitute for Andrew Carroll.
71:10 Substitution Jay Bothroyd comes on in place of Adam Johnson.
70:23 Foul by Alou Diarra on Andrew Carroll, free kick awarded. Phil Jagielka restarts play with the free kick.
67:11 Substitution Mathieu Valbuena leaves the field to be replaced by Alou Diarra.
66:35 Substitution Loic Remy comes on in place of Karim Benzema.
64:51 Unfair challenge on Steven Gerrard by Florent Malouda results in a free kick. Adam Johnson has a direct shot on goal from
the free kick.
64:45 The ball is sent over by Kieran Gibbs, Mamadou Sakho makes a clearance.
64:16 The ball is delivered by Jordan Henderson, Adil Rami makes a clearance.
62:15 Eric Abidal gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Adam Johnson. A cross is delivered by Adam Johnson, Steven Gerrard
takes a shot.
61:40 The referee blows for offside. Micah Richards restarts play with the free kick.
56:33 Corner taken short by Adam Johnson.
54:46 Assist by Bacary Sagna.
54:46 GOAL - Mathieu Valbuena:England 0 - 2 France Mathieu Valbuena gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the area low into the middle of the goal. England 0-2 France.
52:34 The ball is crossed by James Milner, save by Hugo Lloris.
50:57 Karim Benzema concedes a free kick for a foul on Micah Richards. Steven Gerrard takes the indirect free kick.
49:57 The ball is delivered by Mathieu Valbuena, blocked by Kieran Gibbs. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Florent Malouda
from the right by-line to the near post.
48:25 Booking The referee shows Jordan Henderson a yellow card.
47:05 The ball is swung over by Micah Richards, clearance made by Mamadou Sakho.
45:07 Substitution Mamadou Sakho is brought on as a substitute for Philippe Mexes.
45:01 The game restarts for the second half.
45:01 Substitution Micah Richards comes on in place of Rio Ferdinand.
45:01 Substitution Adam Johnson is brought on as a substitute for Theo Walcott.
45:01 Substitution Gareth Barry leaves the field to be replaced by Ashley Young.
45:00+0:26 The first half comes to an end.
44:12 Samir Nasri decides to take a short corner.
41:10 The ball is swung over by James Milner, clearance by Bacary Sagna.
39:40 The ball is swung over by Florent Malouda, Rio Ferdinand makes a clearance.
34:52 Samir Nasri gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gareth Barry. Rio Ferdinand takes the free kick.
34:24 Unfair challenge on Andrew Carroll by Adil Rami results in a free kick. Jordan Henderson takes the direct free kick.
34:08 The ball is sent over by Florent Malouda, comfortable save by Ben Foster.
31:15 Andrew Carroll takes a shot. Hugo Lloris makes a save.
30:34 Mathieu Valbuena gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Rio Ferdinand. Kieran Gibbs takes the direct free kick.
29:12 Effort from long range by Yoann Gourcuff goes wide right of the target.
Correction - 28:27 Steven Gerrard produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
28:27 Shot by Steven Gerrard from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.
28:07 Foul by Mathieu Valbuena on Gareth Barry, free kick awarded. Kieran Gibbs takes the free kick.
27:34 Shot by Karim Benzema from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.
26:58 James Milner takes a shot. Save by Hugo Lloris.
25:25 James Milner gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Bacary Sagna. Free kick taken by Hugo Lloris.
23:05 Karim Benzema takes a shot. Blocked by Rio Ferdinand. Inswinging corner taken by Samir Nasri from the left by-line played
to the near post, clearance by Rio Ferdinand.
18:36 Florent Malouda takes a shot. Blocked by Rio Ferdinand.
18:04 Samir Nasri takes a shot. Blocked by Rio Ferdinand.
15:31 The assist for the goal came from Florent Malouda.
15:31 GOAL - Karim Benzema:England 0 - 1 France Karim Benzema finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the box to the bottom left corner of the goal. England 0-1
13:49 Bacary Sagna sends in a cross, Ben Foster makes a clearance.
Correction - 11:14 Yoann Gourcuff takes a shot. Ben Foster makes a save. Corner taken left-footed by Florent Malouda to the near post, Mathieu
Valbuena has a header from close range and clears the crossbar.
11:14 Yoann Gourcuff takes a shot. Ben Foster makes a save. Corner taken by Florent Malouda from the right by-line to the near post,
Header from deep inside the area by Mathieu Valbuena goes harmlessly over the crossbar.
10:16 Effort from the edge of the area by Florent Malouda goes wide of the right-hand post.
9:14 Shot on goal by Mathieu Valbuena from just inside the area clears the crossbar.
8:58 Karim Benzema takes a shot. Blocked by Rio Ferdinand.
8:03 Florent Malouda takes a shot. Save by Ben Foster.
5:32 Corner taken left-footed by Florent Malouda to the near post, Gareth Barry makes a clearance.
2:26 Unfair challenge on Samir Nasri by Gareth Barry results in a free kick. Yann M'Vila takes the direct free kick.
1:53 Foul by Florent Malouda on Steven Gerrard, free kick awarded. Steven Gerrard restarts play with the free kick.
0:30 Free kick awarded for a foul by Yann M'Vila on Steven Gerrard. Steven Gerrard produces a shot on goal direct from the free
kick, Hugo Lloris makes a save.
0:00 The ref blows the whistle to begin the match.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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