Monday 11 June 2012
England opened up their UEFA Euro 2012 campaign with a Group D draw against France in Donetsk.
Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott put Roy Hodgson's men ahead after 30 minutes with a header from skipper Steven Gerrard’s pinpoint free kick from the right.
England’s lead lasted for only nine minutes as Lescott’s club team-mate Samir Nasri equalised for France with a fine shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards out.
The draw continues Hodgson’s unbeaten start as manager, although it does maintain England’s unwanted record of never winning their opening match of a European Championship.
After a cagey opening it was France who carved out the first clear-cut chance, with Nasri going wide with an early attempt from outside the box.
Manchester City midfielder James Milner almost put England ahead after he rounded France keeper Hugo Lloris but he could only fire wide from a tight angle.
Lescott’s unmarked header broke the deadlock and after Alou Diarra’s powerful header was well saved by Manchester City’s Joe Hart, Nasri’s strike levelled the scores.
France piled on the pressure in the second half with Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery both having shots saved by Hart while Newcastle United’s Yohan Cabaye had a goalbound effort deflected wide by Manchester United's Danny Welbeck.
Hodgson, who gave a first international tournament start to Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, now takes his side to Kiev for Friday's clash against Sweden.
Former Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko scored two goals in seven minutes to give UEFA Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine an historic victory over Sweden in Kiev.
Ukraine, playing in their first European Championship, had gone behind when enigmatic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who had hit the post in the first half, put Sweden ahead on 52 minutes with a tap-in from Kim Kallstrom’s square ball.
But Ukraine responded three minutes later when Shevchenko met Andriy Yarmolenko's cross with a diving header that powered the ball into the net.
And soon after, Shevchenko flicked home a Oleh Gusev corner after ghosting in at the near post.
Sweden went in search of an equaliser but Ibrahimovic had a thumping shot parried by keeper Andriy Pyatov, former Bolton Wanderers striker Johan Elmander blazed a late chance wide and ex-Aston Villa defender Olof Mellberg chipped over.