England, France draw in Group D
Group D favorites England and France both earn 1 point with their 1-1 draw
Englad scored first in the 30th minute; France answered just before halftime
France still has not won a match at a major tournament since the 2006 World Cup
|Final :: Donetsk, Ukraine|
DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) -- France dominated England everywhere except on the scoreboard.
The English held on for a 1-1 draw with France on Monday at the European Championship, giving the Group D favorites one point each. The French finished the match with 19 shots, 15 on target. England managed only three toward net.
Joleon Lescott put England in the lead with a header in the 30th minute, and Samir Nasri leveled for France shortly before halftime with a strike into the bottom corner of the net.
France still has not won a match at a major tournament since the 2006 World Cup. The national team, however, is unbeaten in its last 22 matches.
"I think we have to be happy with that," France coach Laurent Blanc said. "We were too timid at the start, there was a bit of pressure that got to us, and then we got better actually after we conceded the goal - that's when we started playing."
England took the lead when captain Steven Gerrard curled in a free kick from the right after defender Patrice Evra fouled James Milner. Lescott sneaked behind a defender and was able to nod the ball past France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. It was England's only on-target shot.
"I think we played much better," Evra said. "In the end it was a draw and we are a little bit frustrated. At times it was like there were 15 bodies on the team at times.
"It was really difficult for us to find the space. They played in the way that Chelsea played against Barcelona. People laugh. Maybe they want England to play more football, but if they win the tournament like that, they will be happy."
France's equalizer was all about one-touch football. Florent Malouda, Evra and Franck Ribery flicked the ball around the left side of England's penalty area to free up space for Nasri, who put in a low shot before England goalkeeper Joe Hart could react.
"The England defense was really low, so I had to take a shot," Nasri said. "The weird thing is Joe Hart knows me from Manchester City, and knows I normally I open my (instep), so this time I closed it."
After running away in celebration, television replays showed Nasri shouting "Shut your mouth," in French as he looked in the direction of the England bench. He then brought his finger to his lips as if to tell someone to hush.
In the final seconds of the match, Hart pushed away Karim Benzema's goal-bound shot. Moments before, the Real Madrid forward's curling effort was heading for the top corner until it was headed clear. Yohan Cabaye's controlled shot in the 80th minute also beat Hart but was deflected away just before it reached the bottom corner.
"We'll look at our performance and analyze what we've done right and what we've done wrong," Gerrard said. "I think all in all we're satisfied with a point."
In a strange atmosphere at the Donbass Arena, French fans struggled to make themselves heard and England's supporters were sometimes drowned out by a large amount of fans chanting "Russia, Russia."
England coach Roy Hodgson handed 18-year-old midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a surprise start - his third appearance for England. And the English should have taken the lead in the 15th when Milner ran onto Ashley Young's perfectly weighted pass behind the defense, got around Lloris, but then hit the side netting.
"Wayne Rooney showed all those years ago that if you're good enough, you're old enough," Gerrard said, referring to Rooney's impressive performances as an 18-year-old player at Euro 2004. "Oxlade-Chamberlain showed tonight he is good enough for this level."
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