France 1 England 1: Man City’s Nasri cancels out Lescott opener

Samir Nasri cancels out Joleon Lescott's opener as England and France share the spoils in their Euro 2012 Group D opener

Martin Caparrotta
By Martin Caparrotta

Samir Nasri cancelled out Joleon Lescott’s header as England were forced to settle for a point against France in their Euro 2012 Group D opener.

Lescott nodded home Steven Gerrard’s free-kick after half an hour but Nasri’s low effort beat Joe Hart at the near post five minutes before half-time as the Manchester City contingent had their say.

Both sides had chances for a second, with France looking the more dangerous in possession – but the game’s pace slowed in testing temperatures as it ended all square in Donetsk.

France had started the brighter and Nasri signalled his intent early on when he had his club team-mate Hart scrambling in the 11th minute as his shot fizzed just wide of the England goalkeeper’s right post.

England’s first chance fell to James Milner four minutes later – and what a chance it was. The Manchester City midfielder, slid through by Ashley Young, did the hard work in rounding Hugo Lloris but was unable to squeeze his left-footed effort into the empty net.

After a fairly cagey opening half hour, England seized the initiative. Gerrard whipped in a delicious free-kick from the right and Lescott escaped the attentions of Alou Diarra to thump his header home from six yards.

The advantage was England’s but France were inches from drawing level four minutes later, when Diarra’s thunderous header from Nasri’s free-kick was brilliantly saved by Hart.

England failed to heed the warning as France drew level through Nasri in the 39th minute. Some neat interplay on the edge of the box allowed the Manchester City midfielder to fire a ferocious shot low into the near post.

Hart, perhaps unsighted by Gerrard’s attempted block, knew he should have done better – his wry smile said it all.

The goal seemed to inject life back into France as they cranked up the pressure towards the end of the first half but there was to be no more drama before the break.

France controlled the opening stages of the second half despite failing to create a clear-cut chance until the 65th minute, when Karim Benzema drew a good save from Hart after playing a neat one-two with Nasri on the edge of the box.

England were visibly tiring as the second period dragged on and Roy Hodgson opted to replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who impressed on his first competitive start for the national side, with Jermain Defoe.

Scott Parker, who had given his all in a typically dogged display, was brought off for Jordan Henderson.

Hart was grateful for a vital touch from Danny Welbeck after Yohan Cabaye’s brilliantly-struck volley looked destined to nestle in the far corner in the 80th minute. It was to be the last chance of note for either side.

Groundbreaking it certainly was not, but Monday’s stable performance is certainly a good starting point for Hodgson’s men in Poland and Ukraine.


MORE: The latest football transfer news

MORE: Meet the Premier League's most stylish footballers

MORE: Do you know the top Muslim footballers in the Premier League?

MORE: Man United latest news

MORE: Arsenal latest news

MORE: Chelsea latest news

MORE: Liverpool latest news

Australian Open 2018 preview
The Sport Review
Australian Open 2018 preview: Federer goes for 20, but Djokovic, Wawrinka and Del Potro loom
The Sport Review
Top 50 most stylish footballers in the world in 2017: Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool stars feature
The Sport Review
Top 40 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United stars feature
The Sport Review
Top 25 footballers’ cars: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid players feature
The Sport Review
Top 20 Nigerian footballers in Premier League: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool stars feature
The Sport Review
Arsenal player wages 2017: Do you know how much Xhaka, Ozil and Coquelin earn each week?
The Sport Review
Petr Cech sends clear message to Arsenal summer signing
Australian Open 2018
The Sport Review
Australian Open 2018: Evergreen Roger Federer and fellow over-30s champs Djokovic and Wawrinka into Round 2
The Sport Review
Antonio Conte hints new Chelsea signing could play against Norwich