Russian flavor as France draws 1-1 with England
WARSAW, Poland (AP) -Old rivals England and France drew 1-1 in hot and humid conditions as the European Championship moved close to the Russian border on Monday.
England took the lead when defender Joleon Lescott headed in a goal in the 30th minute, but France dominated play once Samir Nasri equalized with a powerful shot in the 39th.
Just a few thousand fans journeyed from Western Europe to Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, and the 50,000-capacity Donbass Arena rang to regular chants of "Russia, Russia'' during the match.
Russia was also on officials' minds in Poland before a potentially tense day Tuesday in Warsaw where the Group A leader plays the co-hosts.
Warsaw city authorities and Euro 2012 organizers played down fears of clashes based on the two countries' troubled political history, and violence involving Russian fans in Wroclaw last Friday.
In Monday's late match in Kiev, co-host Ukraine and Sweden were the last of 16 nations to enter the action.
Reviving the France-England rivalry set a theme for the week, with Poland and Russia next and then neighbors Germany and the Netherlands meeting Wednesday.
England took the lead when captain Steven Gerrard curled in a free kick from the right and Lescott rose to head past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. France soon equalized when Nasri fired in a low shot, which beat the dive of 'keeper Joe Hart, his Manchester City teammate.
With 19 attempts on goal to England's three - and Lescott's strike the only one on target - France appeared unlucky not to win.
"In the second half, I think we could have scored a second goal,'' France coach Laurent Blanc said. "But overall, I think it's a fair draw for both sides.''
England appeared to tire more in the energy-sapping heat, and has never won its first match at a European Championship in six tries.
Polish media fired up anti-Russian feeling Monday by reminding readers of Poland's victorious 1920 battle against the Bolshevik Army, known as "the miracle on the Vistula,'' referring to the river.
The Super Express tabloid carried a front page featuring Poland coach Franciszek Smuda charging on horseback, saber in hand, in a 1920 Polish army uniform under the headline "Faith, Hope, Smuda'' - a play on an old Polish army motto: "Faith, Home, Motherland.''
Newsweek's Polish edition had a front-page picture of Smuda saluting, under the headline: "Poland-Russia: The battle of Warsaw 2012.''
The match in Warsaw falls on the Russia Day national holiday, and up to 10,000 fans with tickets will march from the city center to the stadium.
"There should not be any political themes there,'' Sergei Fursenko, Russia's football federation president, said on Russian state TV.
A group of Russians made a friendship gesture on Monday by placing flowers at a monument to the ill-fated Warsaw Uprising against Nazi German occupiers in 1944. The fans also laid flowers at a cemetery to Red Army troops killed driving the Germans from the city in January 1945.
UEFA continued efforts to prevent discrimination at Euro 2012, revealing Monday that it asked mayors in cities hosting matches and training camps to increase policing at practice sessions.
The request, which called for offenders to be prosecuted, follows monkey chants targeted at Netherlands players during a public practice in Krakow, Poland.
Defending champion Spain continued grumbling about the quality of the pitch during its 1-1 draw with impressive Italy on Sunday. Tournament officials explained that Italy was entitled to refuse Spain's request to water the Gdansk surface two hours before kickoff.
On Tuesday, Czech Republic and Greece meet in Wroclaw before the Poland-Russia clash.
Poland has been picked to win by Citta the elephant, whose Krakow Zoo keepers are hoping to build a reputation for her predictive powers.
Citta, who chooses one of three melons marked with different match outcomes, failed for Poland's 1-1 draw with Greece, when she also expected a co-host nation victory.