England holds on for 1-1 draw with France
England went 1-for-1 in a 1-1 draw with France.
Joleon Lescott scored England’s lone goal on England’s lone shot
on target a few minutes before Samir Nasri equalized as the teams
finished even in Group D of the European Championship.
”I think we have to be happy with that,” France coach Laurent
Blanc said. ”We were too timid at the start. There was a bit of
pressure that got to us, and then we got better actually after we
conceded the goal. That’s when we started playing.”
England took the lead in the 30th minute when captain Steven
Gerrard curled in a free kick from the right after Patrice Evra had
fouled James Milner, and Lescott was able to nod the ball past
France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
France’s equalizer was all about one-touch football as Florent
Malouda, Evra and Franck Ribery flicked the ball around the left
side of England’s penalty area to free up space for Nasri, who put
in a low shot before England goalkeeper Joe Hart could react.
”The England defense was really low, so I had to take a shot,”
Nasri said. ”The weird thing is Joe Hart knows me from Manchester
City, and knows I normally I open my (instep), so this time I
The French team finished the match with 19 shots, 15 of them on
target. England managed three shots, but only the one on
The draw means France has still not won a match at a major
tournament since the 2006 World Cup. The national team, however, is
unbeaten in its last 22 matches.
When Nasri celebrated his goal, he shouted ”Ferme ta geule,”
or ”Shut your mouth.” He then brought his finger to his lips as
if telling someone to keep quiet.
The gesture was aimed as a French journalist from sports daily
L’Equipe, who had questioned his form in an article the day before
”These are individual and personal reactions. They are always
something we don’t always expect,” Blanc said. ”He was happy to
have scored a good goal.”
England coach Roy Hodgson said he didn’t notice Nasri’s
”Did he? Not to me, he didn’t,” Hodgson said. ”Had he said a
few words to me in French, I could have replied.”
Nasri’s goal was more than just an equalizer because it helped
the French avoid yet another setback after the calamity of their
2010 World Cup and Euro 2008 campaigns – where the players returned
home shamefaced following first-round exits.
”I’m confident in our chances. It’s our goal to reach the
quarterfinals,” Nasri said. ”We didn’t lose, so it’s really
important to be focused and turn our heads to the game against
Ukraine (on Friday).”
Despite being outwitted by his Manchester City teammate on the
goal, Hart made key saves to preserve the draw.
”It was tough in those last 15 or 20 minutes,” Hodgson said.
”It was fortunate I had some players to put on to give them a
In the final seconds, Hart pushed away Karim Benzema’s
goal-bound strike. Moments before, the Real Madrid forward’s
curling effort was heading for the top corner until it was headed
clear, and Yohan Cabaye’s controlled shot in the 80th minute beat
Hart but was deflected away just before it reached the bottom
”All in all we’re satisfied with a point,” said Gerrard, whose
team will next face Sweden on Friday.
In a strange atmosphere at the Donbass Arena, French fans
struggled to make themselves heard and England’s supporters were
sometimes drowned out by a large amount of fans chanting ”Russia,
Hodgson handed 18-year-old midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a
surprise start – his third appearance for England.
”Wayne Rooney showed all those years ago that if you’re good
enough, you’re old enough,” Gerrard said, referring to Rooney’s
impressive performances as an 18-year-old player at Euro 2004.
”Oxlade-Chamberlain showed tonight he is good enough for this
England should have taken the lead in the 15th when Milner ran
onto Ashley Young’s perfectly weighted pass behind the defense, got
around Lloris but then hit the side netting.
France: Hugo Lloris, Mathieu Debuchy, Adil Rami, Philippe Mexes,
Patrice Evra, Yohan Cabaye (Hatem Ben Afra, 84) Alou Diarra,
Florent Malouda (Marvin Martin, 85), Samir Nasri, Karim Benzema,
England: Joe Hart, Glen Johnson, John Terry, Joleon Lescott,
Ashley Cole, James Milner, Steven Gerrard, Scott Parker (Jordan
Henderson, 78), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Jermin Defoe, 77), Ashley
Young, Danny Welbeck (Theo Walcott, 90).