England versus France on Tuesday night was more than just a football match, with the events in Paris ensuring that the pre-match events and spirit of the friendly itself became more important than anything else. However, the contest was better than anyone expected.
The Three Lions put in their best 90 minute performance under Roy Hodgson since his arrival three years ago. The tactic of putting faith in youth worked a treat, with their passing and movement a joy to watch throughout.
Watching England often makes for quite dull viewing, but Tuesday night was far from it. Much praise has particularly given to Tottenham youngster Dele Alli, with his wonder goal and all round performance fully deserving of such plaudits.
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His partnership and understanding with club team-mate Eric Dier will also excite Hodgson and his coaching staff.
Whilst he might have gone under the radar, though, John Stones' performance at centre-back stood out most. He has become so important to Everton in the Premier League that the thought of him not being available worries Toffees fans - and such feelings have transcended onto the international stage.
His confidence in possession is greater than any centre-back since Rio Ferdinand, and combined with his pace and defensive ability, he has become quite the prospect for both club and country.
The question is, therefore: could he provide a platform for England to build on? The 2-0 defeat against Spain proved this might not be possible against every opponent, but it is certainly an exciting prospect, with reports suggesting some have earmarked Stones as a future captain.
His playing style and grace on the ball draw comparisons with England great Bobby Moore, and whilst living up to such a reputation might not be possible, the calls for the 21-year-old to be a regular at centre-back are becoming more difficult to ignore.
Lets not get carried away by England's performance, though. This match was never about football and it remains the case that France would have been jaded by the recent tragic events.
The solidarity and pre-match tributes shown by both sets of fans was a sight to behold, and in many ways, to be able to draw positives on and off the field was the best way to respond to the loss of over 130 innocent lives.
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