Fabio Capello opened a door on the future for England - and the fans did not like what they saw as the Three Lions were jeered off after a 2-1 defeat to France at Wembley.
Aside from Andy Carroll and Steven Gerrard, there were few straws for England to grasp until substitute Peter Crouch did what he does best within seconds of his arrival. It took the Tottenham forward just over a minute to turn home Ashley Young's corner and claim his 22nd international goal.
Unfortunately, though England continued to pump high balls into the visitors' area, it was not enough to threaten a superior French team who had claimed a matchwinning lead through Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena and inflicted the hosts' first defeat since their loss to Germany in Bloemfontein.
France dominated from that start and Florent Malouda almost caught Ben Foster out with a shot from the edge of the area after he had been presented with far too much room to advance into. Yoann Gourcuff brought an excellent save from Joe Hart's deputy as his shot dipped wickedly at the last moment.
These events were the precursor to Benzema's fine 16th-minute strike. Questions should not just be asked of how Foster was beaten at his near post. Others should be raised of the ease with which the Real Madrid forward was first able to take possession, then race on unchecked as he belted Malouda's neat return pass into the net.
Two cushioned headers from Carroll created opportunities that Steven Gerrard and James Milner drove straight at Hugo Lloris.
After a pretty even battle with Arsenal team-mate Kieran Gibbs, Bacary Sagna scored a decisive victory when he shot down the touchline unopposed, exposing a chronic lack of cover, before crossing into a penalty area where the dangerous Valbuena arrived with perfect timing to finish.
Capello's side tried to retaliate and Gerrard got on the end of an inswinging free-kick from Adam Johnson but at, full stretch, he could only direct his header over the bar.
The excellent Samir Nasri struck the outside of a post before Crouch turned home Ashley Young's far-post corner five minutes from time.
Crouch remains an enigma, with Capello unconvinced about the wider aspects of his game beyond what is surely vital for a striker, the principle task of finding the net.Debutant Jay Bothroyd could not manage it anyway, as his tame header wasted England's best chance of an equaliser in stoppage-time.
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.