Euro 2012

France, England share spoils

2012-06-11 20:09
Joleon Lescott controls the ball in front of France's Karim Benzema (AP)

Donetsk - France came from behind to force a 1-1 draw with England on Monday as a cagey Euro 2012 opener between the Group D rivals ended in a stalemate.

Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott headed England into a 30th-minute lead to leave Roy Hodgson's men dreaming of the perfect start to their campaign on a sweltering night at the Donbass Arena.

But Lescott's City team-mate Samir Nasri struck back with a 39th-minute equaliser, lashing a low shot from outside the area to give France a share of the points and extend Les Bleus' unbeaten run to 22 games.

England coach Roy Hodgson was more than happy to have shared the spoils.

"I think we played well as we played against a tough team," said Hodgson.

"We were very disciplined and to finish 1-1 and ask the questions of them we did we've got to be happy.

"I'm not frustrated at giving away the equaliser as we kept them at bay really. In fact we had our own chances."

His French counterpart Laurent Blanc believed it was the correct outcome.

"It is a worthy draw for both sides," he said.

"It is not that bad a result. We should have scored the second even if we had only a few opportunities in the second-half."

A cagey opening period saw both sides begin cautiously, and it was 11 minutes before anyone got a shot on goal with Nasri's low shot flying just wide of Manchester City team-mate Joe Hart's post.

Yet England seemed far from cowed by the occasion, and should have taken the lead four minutes later after Ashley Young slipped in James Milner with a lovely through pass that caught France square.

The Manchester City midfielder rounded Hugo Lloris with his first touch but then failed to find the net from a tight angle.

Moments later Yohan Cabaye tested Hart from long range, the City keeper diving to his left to stop his low strike.

Meanwhile Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a surprise starter on the left side of midfield ahead of Stewart Downing, enjoyed a confident start, dispossessing Adil Rami early on and producing one memorable jinking run.

England's bright opening yielded its reward on 30 minutes with the breakthrough coming from a setpiece.

Captain Steven Gerrard swung in a pinpoint free-kick from the right flank and Lescott took advantage of acres of space afforded him by Alou Diarra to head past Lloris from close range.

Yet the England goal was the cue for a period of dominance from France which lasted until the half-time whistle.

Diarra almost made immediate amends with a header of his own, Hart parrying high after the defensive midfielder met Nasri's pinpoint freekick.

In the ensuing scramble Franck Ribery headed back across goal but Diarra's second effort went wide.

A French equaliser seemed on though and it arrived through Nasri six minutes from half-time, the forward taking advantage of an English side standing too deep to squeeze a ferocious shot just inside Hart's post.

England seemed content to slow the pace of the game in the second half, and passed confidently without ever threatening France.

Gradually however France's superior technique began to tell, and England spent long periods of the closing minutes on the back foot.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, well shackled by Scott Parker for much of the match, forced a fine low save from Hart on 65 minutes.

Benzema, who had drawn a booking for Ashley Young on 71 minutes then went close again, curling a shot goalwards which Gerrard headed behind for a corner.

But though England seemed to be tiring rapidly in the final stages, France were unable to find the winner as the match wound down, with Benzema's late strike parried by Hart.

England will face Sweden in Kiev on Friday in their second game while France face Sweden in Donetsk.

Read more on:    euro 2012  |  joleon lescott  |  samir nasri  |  soccer
NEXT ON SPORT24X

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 

3 must-do trail runs

If you love trail running, you have to put these on your bucket list.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route
Watch: Insane road bike skills!
Vote

How much interest do you have in the Euro2012 championships?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Featured

Got something you'd like to get off your chest? Got a burning desire to air an opinion? If so, be sure to sign-up on Sport24's FORUM!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.