England 1 France 1
England 1 France 1, Donbass Arena Stadium, UEFA European Championship Finals Group Stage, June 11, 2912. The Three Lions earned themselves a 1-1 draw in the opening fixture against longtime adversaries France in Donetsk. A well-placed header from Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott put England in front on the half-hour mark before fellow club teammate Samir Nasri levelled for France a mere six minutes ahead of the half-time break.
England had never won an opening fixture in an European Championship tournament, so a draw against historical adversaries France was not the worst result. Manchester United winger Ashley Young created a great scoring opportunity for Eastlands midfielder James Milner during the opening stages of the tussle, but the latter failed to find the target. The Three Lions eventually went into a hard fought lead in the 30th minute of the play when a long and dangerous Steven Gerrard free-kick from the right was brilliantly met by the aerially commanding Joleon Lescott who headed the ball past Lyon custodian Hugo Lloris and into the goal from close range. But a mere nine minutes later, offensive oriented midfield playmaker Samir Nasri managed to level the score for France with an accurate and powerful effort from the edge of the penalty area which flew past the outstretched arms of England goalkeeper Joe Hart and into the bottom left corner of the net. Les Tricolores no doubt played the better football during the first period, but the white shirts came back a lot stronger following the restart. Nonetheless, there were no more goals to come as both teams seemed content to keep the ball in the middle of the park. With nineteen minutes left on the clock, however, Young was rightfully given a yellow card by Italian match official Nicola Rizzoli for a tough challenge on Karim Benzema.
The French enjoyed several decent opportunities to score during the closing stages of the clash, but the hard working England side held the opposition at bay to gain a most important point. Not surprisingly, though, the opening group stage match was one of caution and both England and France were playing carefully for fear of losing. In the other group fixture, European Championship co-hosts Ukraine narrowly edged out Sweden by a 2-1 margin with experienced Dynamo Kiev striker Andriy Shevchenko hitting twice for The Yellow Blue, and prolific AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic finding the net for The Blue Yellow. Roy Hodgson´s men would now lock horns with the Swedish team at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev in their second group encounter, while Laurent Blanc´s legionnaires would meet the Ukrainians at the Donbass Arena Stadium in Donetsk. England Team: Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott, John Terry, Glen Johnson, James Milner, Ashley Young, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Scott Parker, Danny Welbeck. Substitutes: Jack Butland, Robert Green, Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones, Leighton Baines, Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Theo Walcott, Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe. France Team: Hugo Lloris, Philippe Mexes, Adil Rami, Mathieu Debuchy, Patrice Evra, Yohan Cabaye, Alou Diarra, Samir Nasri, Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema, Florent Malouda. Substitutes: Cedric Carrasso, Steve Mandanda, Laurent Koscielny, Anthony Reveillere, Gael Clichy, Hatem Ben Arfa, Yann M’Vila, Marvin Martin, Blaise Matuidi, Mathieu Valbuena, Olivier Giroud, Jeremy Menez.