It was not the way the LA Galaxy man had imagined completing a century of caps but he was still given a standing ovation by both sets of fans as he left the field.
Overall it was a poor performance from England despite Beckham's efforts, although they had almost half an hour of constant possession in the first half before losing their way badly.
Capello's side failed to create clear-cut chances, even in those early stages, and when they did Beckham couldn't quite reach an Ashley Cole driven cross and Gerrard twice headed over the bar.
England were made to pay for their lack of adventure in the final third when France went aheadthrough a Ribery penalty, against the run of play.
It was James who gave it away, brutally bringing down Nicolas Anelka after the Frenchman had lost his marker John Terry in the 32nd minute. And Ribery made no mistake from the spot.
Beckham was booked for a challenge after 39 minutes as the frustration grew and Capello was ruthless at the break.
He took off Terry, Joe Cole, Gerrard and Rooney and brought on Peter Crouch, Michael Owen, Joleon Lescot and Stewart Downing in their place.
The changes altered England's formation from only one up front to a more regular 4-4-2 but the performance got no better and possibly even worst.
Beckham, whose England debut came way back in September 1996 in Moldova, made way for David Bentley just after the hour mark and Glen Johnson replaced Wes Brown.
But England were fortunate not to lose by more and never looked like scoring themselves.