PARIS: The use of a video assistant referee was again a subject of controversy as France, despite being reduced to 10 men, defeated England 3-2 in a friendly in the Stade de France.
World federation FIFA is hoping to rush the VAR into operation at the World Cup in Russia next year but it is becoming clear that more time and consideration may be needed before the International Board can offer formal approval.
Samuel Umtiti and Djibril Sidibe turned things around for the hosts before half-time, with Ousmane Dembele wrapping up a deserved 3-2 win as France made light of Kane’s equaliser and Raphael Varane’s sending off as VARs were utilised for the first time in an England match.
Confusion reigned for a minute inside the Stade de France as referee Davide Massa waited to hear from video assistant team of Marco Guida and Massimiliano Irrati, with the penalty compounded by Varane’s controversial red card for bringing down Dele Alli.
Tributes to the victims of the recent Manchester and London terror attacks were paid, in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Theresa May, ahead of the match in which England captain Harry Kane opened the scoring within minutes of the kickoff.
France coach Didier Deschamps said: “The match was complicated by the sending off and the penalty. It was tricky and seemed quite harsh, but it was less significant because we won the game 3-2.
“We saw lots of quality, even with the team not the same in a friendly against an England team playing a different system to usual. The manner in which we played, with this attacking style and approach, was encouraging.”
England’s disappointed manager Gareth Southgate said: “In the space of 90 minutes we saw the things we’re very good at – with the ball we caused a lot of problems, looked a threat, created good openings, took our first goal very well – and equally we saw the things that have to get better – defending as a team and the managing the game, in particular the period once France had gone down to 10 men.
“We just didn’t manage that period of the game as well as we need to. I thought part of that was because we tired, I think we put a huge amount into the game to try and press and to deal with the physical capabilities France had – and it was a problem for us all night, their pace and their athleticism.”
Argentina made it two wins out of two under new boss Jorge Sampaoli by beating Singapore 6-0 in a friendly.
A stuttering World Cup qualifying campaign cost Edgardo Bauza his job as coach in April but Sampaoli has enjoyed the perfect start as his players followed up their 1-0 friendly win over Brazil last week with another convincing performance at the National Stadium.
Even with Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain rested, Argentina still had more than enough against 157th-ranked Singapore as goals from Federico Fazio, Joaquin Correa, Alejandro Gomez, Leandro Paredes, Lucas Alario and Angel di Maria sealed the rout.