France and England draw 1-1 at Euro 2012

England held on for a 1-1 draw with France on Monday at the

European Championship, giving the Group D favorites one point

each.

Joleon Lescott put England in the lead with a header in the 30th

minute, and Samir Nasri leveled for France shortly before halftime

with a strike into the bottom corner.

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.

”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 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.

After running away in celebration, television replays showed

Nasri had shouted ”Ferme ta geule,” or ”Shut your mouth,” as he

looked in the direction of the England bench. He then brought his

finger to his lips as if to tell someone to hush.

In the final seconds of the match, 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 corner.

”We’ll look at our performance and analyze what we’ve done

right and what we’ve done wrong,” Gerrard said. ”I think all in

all we’re satisfied with a point.”

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,

Russia.”

The French finished the match with 19 shots, 15 of them on

target. England managed only three, and only one on target.

”In the second half, I think we could have scored a second

goal,” Blanc said. ”But overall, I think it’s a fair draw for

both sides.”

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

level. He’s still got a lot of learning to do, but playing with

experienced players he’ll pick that up.”

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 will next face co-host Ukraine on Friday while England

plays Sweden.

Lineups:

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,

Franck Ribery.

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).