England holds on for draw with France
Donetsk, Ukraine (Sports Network) - England held on for a 1-1 draw with France to open Group D play at Euro 2012 on Monday as the two sides traded first-half goals at the Donbass Arena.
Joleon Lescott opened the scoring for England on the half-hour mark before Samir Nasri responded for the French nine minutes later to earn his team a share of the points.
France was the more dangerous side in the second half, but in the end it appeared that both teams were content with a point as games against Sweden and Ukraine are ahead.
Roy Hodgson was in charge of his first competitive match for England, and he nearly watched his team open the scoring after 15 minutes when Ashley Young cut the French defense open with a pass to James Milner inside the area. Milner did well to round goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, but he shot wide of the near post from a tight angle with an empty net staring him in the face.
It was a great chance missed by Milner, but Lescott nodded the Three Lions ahead in the 30th as he got on the other end of Steven Gerrard's free kick to head home from six yards.
England goalkeeper Joe Hart was called upon five minutes later to make a nice reaction stop on Alou Diarra's header. However, the Manchester City netminder was unable to stop Nasri's shot shortly after.
Franck Ribery dropped a ball off for Nasri and he lashed it through traffic and into the lower corner of the net, beating Hart at his near post.
The goal seemed to make England become more defensive, and although France enjoyed the majority of the possession in the second half, the English sat back and soaked up the pressure, with Hart never seriously tested.
Yohan Cabaye had the best chance for France in the 80th minute when his powerful volley was deflected past the post by England's Danny Welbeck.
The two sides return to action in Group D on Friday with France facing co- hosts Ukraine while England tangles with Sweden.