England’s opening Euro 2012 game ended in a hard-fought draw against Laurent Blanc’s highly-fancied France in Donetsk. Manchester City’s Joleon Lescott and Samir Nasri were the scorers in what was at times a cagey encounter.
Despite seeing less of the ball early on, England threatened down the right with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain getting the best of France’s right-back Matheui Debuchy as he impressed linking up well with Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck up top.
Young started brightly and threaded a ball through to James Milner for England’s first chance of the game. Milner timed his run well leaving Patrice Evra standing but failed to finish after rounding Hugo Llorris when in all fairness you would expect him to do better.
It didn’t matter though. On the half-hour Milner bought a foul from Evra and Steven Gerrard and a re-taken free-kick from the skipper found Lescott who had got ahead of Alou Diarra to head the ball home. Lloris simply stood no chance.
England’s joy didn’t live long as a wonderful move involving Frank Ribery,Florent Maldoua and Evra ended with Nasri firing in a low shot from just outside the box under Joe Hart and into his near post. It was a great strike but one England could have avoided.
After doing well to see out the first-half, England came out better after the break but despite seeing more of the ball failed to penetrate the French back-four. Oxlade-Chamberlain kept going as he continued not to look out of place at International level.
With John Terry and Lescott looking solid in the heart of England’s defence, even Glen Johnson began to look solid as Ashley Cole continued to deny Ribery and Nasri time and space out wide on the right.
Both sides made changes late on with England going close when Phillipe Mexes poked Milner’s low cross out for a corner just ahead of Welbeck sliding in with France’s best efforts coming from Karim Benzema from long range.
In conclusion a great point for England. However it will count for nothing if Roy Hodgson cannot get his side to qualify and pick up at least 4 points from their remaining group games against Sweden and the co-hosts Ukraine.
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87