September 18, 2020

Euro 2012: France 1 England 1


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England’s opening Euro 2012 game ended in stalemate as they played out a low-key draw with France in Donetsk.

Joleon Lescott gave England the lead with a header from captain Steven Gerrard’s free-kick – but France were level before the interval with a fine 20-yard finish from Lescott’s Manchester City team-mate Samir Nasri.

It was a game that dulled the early sparkle of this tournament, and was played out in searing temperatures inside the Donbass Arena by two teams who may well take satisfaction from a point from their first game.

“It is a decent result, and a decent performance at times,” said Lee Dixon, BBC Sport tactical expert and former England right-back. “There are issues to address – they played quite deep at times, with the centre-backs not sure who to pick up.

“The young players did well. Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were excellent. Scott Parker was everywhere and it was an encouraging performance from them.

“France were only threatening from long-range shots, due to good defending but also because the French did not want to get in behind. They felt they could just pass the ball around England.

“If you don’t have anyone to mark for long periods of the game, which they did not because Karim Benzema kept dropping off, you go into a false sense of security. You hold the line then, all of a sudden, you see that you have actually dropped back. You let the people in front of you do the work, when actually you need to step up.

“England might look back at it and say they should have beaten the French with their weak backline. The two centre-backs were there for the taking, but France were expected to beat us, they were the favourites, but England come out with a lot of credit.”

For more on this story and to see the reports from the other BBC pundits go to: and

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