Euro 2012: England v France match report
- 11 June 2012 19:32
- Posted by Chris Eccles
England’s opening game against France in Donetsk had a scoreline made in Manchester as City’s Joleon Lescott scored for England before Samir Nasri equalised for France in a 1-1 draw.
On a night when there were four City players on the pitch (Hart, Milner, Lescott, Nasri) and one on the bench (Clichy), at times it seemed like the Manchester City show, particularly when club ambassador Patrick Vieira appeared as a TV summariser.
The big news before kick-off was a starting place for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and that realism was the new optimism for England fans. Given that England haven’t won an opening game in any of their previous seven European Championships, it was realism verging on pessimism for most commentators.
Les Bleus have also fared poorly in recent competitions and have gained only two points from their last six group matches.
After England had the better of a slow start in the Donetsk heat, the first chance fell to Samir Nasri who pulled a shot wide of Joe Hart’s goal on 11 minutes.
Moments later, James Milner ran on to a threaded pass from Ashley Young, finding himself in a terrific position only to be forced wide and shoot into the side netting .
A Steven Gerard free kick, won for a foul on James Milner, was expertly despatched and Joleon Lescott gave the slip to French defender Alou Diarra to power in a header from close range.
It was a terrific set piece goal and a great reward for the desire and strength of the City defender.
Joe Hart was called into action minutes later, with a reaction save to a point blank Diarra header.
On 39 minutes the City influence on the game was upped another notch when Samir Nasri scored from long range. Collecting the ball on the edge of the box, Nasri pulled the trigger and saw the ball beat teammate Hart to the bottom left corner.
In the second half both teams played good possession football but tired as the game wore on and in the end both seemed happy to settle for the draw.
In days gone by, a draw in an opening game could result in an England manager being transformed into a tabloid vegetable. In this new age of realism, it was a creditable draw against a good side in a difficult game.
Euro City Watch:
A great first international goal for Joleon and a steady performance in the heart of the England defence. Although it was only the third time Lescott has partnered John Terry, the pair seemed comfortable enough.
Will possibly feel he could have done better with Nasri’s equalising goal but he may have been unsighted. A few uncharacteristic shaky moments for the City stopper but also a fantastic point blank save shortly after England scored.
A tireless performance from Milner providing an important outlet for England. Came very close to opening the scoring and played a part in the England goal.
A very lively performance from the City playmaker who was at the heart of most French attacking play. A well taken goal hit with power and precision.