Euro 2012: Honours even as France, England draw
France came from behind to force a 1-1 draw with England as a cagey Euro 2012 opener between the Group D rivals ended in a stalemate.
France came from behind to force a 1-1 draw with England on Monday as a cagey Euro 2012 opener between the Group D rivals ended in a stalemate. (All AFP and AP Images)
Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott headed England into a 30th-minute lead to leave Roy Hodgson's men dreaming of the perfect start to their campaign on a sweltering night at the Donbass Arena.
Captain Steven Gerrard swung in a pinpoint free-kick from the right flank and Lescott took advantage of acres of space afforded him by Alou Diarra to head past Hugo Lloris from close range.
Lescott's City team-mate Samir Nasri struck back with a 39th-minute equaliser, lashing a low shot from outside the area to give France a share of the points and extend Les Bleus' unbeaten run to 22 games.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was a surprise starter on the left side of midfield, ahead of Stewart Downing, for England.
It was 11 minutes before anyone got a shot on goal with Samir Nasri's low shot flying just wide of Manchester City team-mate Joe Hart's post.
England should have taken the lead in the fifteenth minute after Ashley Young slipped in James Milner with a lovely through pass that caught France square. The midfielder rounded Hugo Lloris with his first touch but then failed to find the net from a tight angle.
Franck Ribery has long been lambasted for failing to reproduce his Bayern Munich form in the blue shirt of his country, but in the first half, he was at the source of much of France's best football.
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, well shackled by Scott Parker for much of the match, forced a fine low save from Hart on 65 minutes.
Though England seemed to be tiring rapidly in the final stages, France were unable to find the winner as the match wound down, with Benzema's late strike parried by Joe Hart.