England 1 France 1

Ashley Young

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.


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