Euro 2012: Stubborn England keep France at bay
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Euro 2012: Stubborn England keep France at bay

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 00:17
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Euro 2012: Stubborn England keep France at bayDonetsk: England opened up their Euro 2012 campaign with a cagey 1-1 draw against France at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk.

Laurent Blanc`s team controlled much of the Group D fixture but Joleon Lescott headed the Three Lions into the lead after 30 minutes.

Les Bleus were level before half-time thanks to Samir Nasri`s 39th minute strike but could not unlock England`s defence after the break.

France looked to generate their first attacks down the left flank, with Franck Ribery finding space behind Glen Johnson early on and Samir Nasri, drifting across the edge of the penalty area, shooting just wide of Joe Hart`s right post.


Les Bleus were level before half-time thanks to Samir Nasri`s 39th minute strike but could not unlock England`s defence after the break.

France looked to generate their first attacks down the left flank, with Franck Ribery finding space behind Glen Johnson early on and Samir Nasri, drifting across the edge of the penalty area, shooting just wide of Joe Hart`s right post.


It was Roy Hodgson`s men, though, who created the best chance of the opening quarter of an hour. Ashley Young found enough space to turn and pick out the slanted run of James Milner, who rounded Hugo Lloris with his first touch but could only hit the side netting with his second.

In the next 15 minutes the Three Lions were to carve out very little more but just as France seemed to be tightening their grip on proceedings, England jumped into the lead.

Gerrard brought back memories of David Beckham with a sublime delivery from the right-hand side that Lescott powered past Lloris from close range.

Alou Diarra was beaten in the air in that instance but the Marseille midfielder very nearly made amends when he forced Hart into an excellent save from a free kick before nodding a second attempt inches wide after Ribery had returned the ball to the danger zone.

Ribery was at the centre of all things positive for Les Bleus and as Laurent Blanc`s team cranked up the pressure towards the end of the half, he played a part in their deserved equaliser. The Bayern Munich star teed the ball up for Nasri, who rattled a 20-yard shot inside Hart`s near post.

England had more of a say early in the second half, with both teams trading blows without creating too much in the way of clear cut chances. Gerrard was denied a clear free kick in a good position on the edge of the France penalty area before the Liverpool captain cut out Patrice Evra`s threatening cross at the other end.

With Scott Parker seemingly struggling with either an injury or fatigue, France began to exploit more space in front of the England defence and Karim Benzema, hitherto a subdued presence, found enough room to unleash a powerful shot that Hart matched. Parker`s situation was not helped when he felt the full force of Florent Malouda`s attempted shot with a brave block.

Yohan Cabaye might have hit the back of the net with a neat volley if Danny Welbeck had not stuck out a leg to register an important block before Gerrard diverted Benzema`s curling shot to safety as France continued to search for a decisive goal.

England added Jermain Defoe and Theo Walcott to their attack while France looked to Hatem Ben Arfa and Marvin Martin for inspiration but while Les Bleus remained well on top, Hodgson`s team defended bravely to secure a valuable point.

First Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 00:04

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