Football

Resilient England hold France

Lescott headed England ahead. (©GettyImages)
Lescott headed England ahead. (©GettyImages).

England and France had to settle for a share of the spoils in their opening Euro 2012 Group D clash, with Samir Nasri cancelling out defender Joleon Lescott's opener.

Roy Hodgson sprang a surprise in his line-up with the inclusion of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and he showed some smart touches as the first period wore on.

And, whilst Les Bleus enjoyed more of the possession, it was the Three Lions who carved out the best early opportunity. Ashley Young's through ball found an on-rushing James Milner, and he took the ball around keeper Hugo Lloris, only to fire wide on the stretch with his left foot.

The signs were positive for England, and they got the breakthrough on 30 minutes when Steven Gerrard's free-kick found the head of Lescott from six yards. The Manchester City centre back made no mistake from close-range.

That spurred Laurent Blanc's side into action however, and they should have been level minutes later after Alou Diarra forced Joe Hart into a good save with a strong header. Franck Ribery kept the ball alive, but Diarra could only nod wide with his second effort under pressure from close range.

It was a warning to Hodgson's side, and on 39 minutes Nasri made them pay with a fine strike from 20 yards out. He beat City teammate Hart at the near-post, with the former Shrewsbury stopper unable to get a firm hand to the strike.

France had the better chances in the second-half, with Benzema, Ribery and Cabaye all finding either England defenders or Hart in the way of any goalbound efforts.

Both sides made changes in an effort to freshen things up late on, but nobody was able to make the difference as they look ahead to their next matches - England against Sweden and France versus Ukraine on Friday.

Topics:
Internationals
Football

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