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The friendly between England and France always had a special importance to it other than the result. This was a game where the result was not of much significance because sometimes football is indeed just a game and there are other issues far more important than a 90 minute match.

England & France show solidarity against the Paris terror attacks.
The solidarity shown by both sets of players along with their supporters sent a message of strength and unity to the entire world. It was never easy for the players and the supporters to be part of this occasion just four days after the horrific terror attacks in Paris that took the lives of around 120 people. However, the supporters, with their 'Pray for Paris' placards, made sure their defiant message was heard by everyone.

As for the game, it was a wonderful night for Hodgson and his men. England were ordinary against Spain but they upped their game in the match against France. The French started the game well with Cabaye in particular threatening in the early stages.However, it may have been one of those games for France where the occasion got to them and they started to fade away as the game went on. For England though, this was a game where a lot of positives could be brought along.

Rooney, who was restored to the starting lineup, was particularly impressive and so was Dele Alli. The young Tottenham midfielder scored the first and also played an important part in the second. Rooney, who scored the second, looked sharp in the game and was looking like he wanted to impress his manager after being benched for the match against Spain.

There was also a heartfelt applause for Lassana Diarra, who had lost his cousin in those attacks, when he came on later in the game. France, however, failed to threaten in the final stages of the game and England went on to win the match comfortably in the end. However, it was one of those games where the result was not king, the occasion was.

French magazine France Football has chosen the top 10 French players who played in the Premier league, with Eric Cantona leading the list.

Eric Cantona
Eric Cantona was one of the finest ever signing that was consummated by Sir Alex Ferguson himself. Sir Alex bought him mid season in 1992-93 season, with the club in 4th position. His signing propelled the club at the top. Manchester United won their first league title in 1993, for the first time in 26 years.

Bought for 1.2 million pounds from rivals Leeds United, Eric Cantona proved to be an astute signing. Manchester United won 4 league titles in 5 years he spent at the club. He also won 2 FA Cups. During the season of 1995-96, he carried a young team consisting majorly of youth team players to league glory.

He retired abruptly at the age of 31 at the end of 1996-97 season, after scoring a total of 64 league goals for United, 11 in the domestic cups and 5 in Champions League.

Complete list by France Football
In the list compiled by France Football, Cantona was followed by Arsenal legends Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira.

The complete list is as below:

1. Eric Cantona
2. Thierry Henry
3. Patrick Vieira
4. Patrice Evra
5. David Ginola
6. Robert Pires
7. William Gallas
8. Marcel Desailly
9. Claude Makelele
10. Nicolas Anelka

Cristiano Ronaldo was kept very quiet by France's defence. He looked most like scoring for the hosts with a long-range free kick. Ronaldo's frustration grew as the game proceeded and he was unable to produce his best.

Paul Pogba and Cristiano Ronaldo
Mathieu Valbuena scored from a fantastic free-kick in the 85th minute which won his side the friendly over Portugal.  Manchester United's new signing Anthony Martial also made his senior debut for France.

Paul Pogba seemed to be in involved in everything. He was strong on the ball and was holding off Portuguese players with ease before picking a pass. His presence was dominant in the midfield.

Cristiano Ronaldo looked so angry by Paul Pogba's ball protection.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:


France players celebrating their victory

France overcame a tough Nigerian test to progress to the quarter finals in the World Cup for the first time since 2006.

France scored 2 second half goals through Pogba and an own gold from Yobo to set up a quarter final match with either Germany or Algeria. Those two teams play Porto Alegere at 8pm tonight (UK time).

Both teams to be evenly matched in the first half, Nigeria had a goal ruled offside and Pogba had a wonderful volley saved by the Nigerian keeper. The second half was dominated by Didier Deschamp's side and they got two goals for it. The first a good header from Paul Pogba in the 79th minute broke the deadlock.


Paul Pogba after his goal

Before that France had a shot cleared of the line and a Cabaye volley hit the bar. France wrapper up the match in injury time when Yobo sliced into his own net from 6 yards out.

In my predictions (read them here), I predicted a trashing for Nigeria and I didn't expect much from them going into this match. They surprised me though and they put a good first half performance. Sadly they didn't replicate it in the second half and they were knocked out. France overcame a small blip and I wouldn't call it their best ever win but they struggled through.

Article contributed by: Luke Blackstock

Blog: theblackstockblog.wordpress.com
Twitter: @LukeZB99

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