England’s opening game in Group D ended in a 1-1 draw against France as Samir Nasri cancelled out Joleon Lescott’s opener
Having taken the lead through a Lescott header on 30 minutes, England could only hold on for nine minutes as Nasri struck from the edge of the area. The Three Lions never really looked like restoring their advantage thereafter, instead relying on the obdurate defensive traits that have been so evident in Roy Hodgson’s previous two friendlies in charge.
As France are expected to advance from Group D, the new manager might well be pleased with the outcome on a sweltering night.
There are obvious deficiencies though and it is going to take far longer than the six weeks Hodgson has had to prepare for this competition to drill home the importance of keeping hold of the ball.
So much has changed in the two years since South Africa, yet by half-time there was an uncomfortable sense the fundamentals remained the same.
Five of Hodgson’s first competitive starting line-up were on duty for the World Cup opener in Rustenburg, when England blitzed the United States, got their noses in front and then needlessly tossed away the advantage.
Steven Gerrard scored that night. This time he was the provider, curling over a superb free-kick from the touchline, where James Milner had been nudged over by Patrice Evra.
Lescott would not have been playing if Gary Cahill’s tournament had not been ended by a broken jaw before it had begun.
The Manchester City man is a threat in these situations though and got away from Alou Diarra at the far post to beat goalkeeper Hugo Lloris from point-blank range.
It could quite easily have been doubling the advantage as not long before, Milner had raced onto Ashley Young’s through-ball and skipped round Lloris. Alas, Milner rolled the ball wide. These were brief moments in the ascendancy for England though.
Having already recorded the pre-match temperature at 31 degrees, UEFA came up with another startling statistic at half-time, namely France had completed 299 passes to England’s 171. By the end it was a staggering 634 to 307.
Source: ESPN Soccernet