Wembley unites to honour Paris victims

2015-11-18 07:34
Wayne Rooney (AFP)

London - A moving rendition of the French national anthem reverberated around London's Wembley Stadium on Tuesday as fans of England and France paid tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks.

In a crowd of 71 223 that included British Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince William, many stood to sing 'La Marseillaise' four days on from the attacks, which left 129 people dead and over 350 injured.

England won a subdued match 2-0 courtesy of goals from Dele Alli and captain Wayne Rooney, but the outcome of the contest was a mere anecdote on a night thick with poignancy.

"Emotionally, it was a very, very strong moment," France manager Didier Deschamps told his post-match press conference.

"We were all united in this moment of communion, which obviously lifts the spirits because you feel it in your heart. It's beautiful, it's moving, it's grandiose. It's very strong."

France midfielder Lassana Diarra, who lost a female cousin in the attacks, and team-mate Antoine Griezmann, whose sister escaped the massacre at the Bataclan concert hall, both came on in the second half.

Diarra, a former player with English sides Chelsea, Arsenal and Portsmouth, was granted a warm round of applause as he came on.

"He sent us a remarkable message," Deschamps said. "His presence with us was something very, very strong. That's why I let him play the last few minutes."

England manager Roy Hodgson said: "It was a very poignant occasion. It was everything I expected it to be."

There was a visible police presence outside the ground, while two armed counter-terror police officers were seen patrolling beside the pitch prior to kick-off.

The friendly between Germany and the Netherlands scheduled to take place in Hanover on Tuesday had earlier been cancelled, with German police citing a "serious" bomb threat, while Belgium's game with Spain was also called off.

Both managers said that they had been aware of events in Hanover, with Deschamps revealing that he had deliberately not informed his players. 


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