Euro 2012: Group D: England exceed expectations as they draw France, 1-1

The buzz is all about James Milner missing what should have been an easy as pie goal. Add Joe Hart’s bumbling attempt to stop Samir Nasri’s shot which had pace but could have been easily saved near post. England could have pulled it off despite the soft centre where France won the possession game and looked extremely threatening especially just before half time.
Roy Hodgson deserves kudos for starting Alex Oxlade – Chamberlain and with Ashley Young, giving pace down both flanks. The Arsenal winger showed he has it in him but needs to work on his decision making. Young, the cleverest English player on display, exposed the weakness of the French defense with Phillipe Mexes and Adil Rami reading the game poorly. Steven Gerrard laid in a perfect set piece for Joleon Lescott to give England the lead. Nasri’s equalizer came after the French established a beach head deep in England territory. The half could not have come any sooner as France threatened to do further damage.
Nasri celebrated by giving a finger to the French press who had been pounding on him before the match. The man takes things personally, doesn’t he? The first half was all about promise; the second half, somnolence. Still, one point is welcome and now England can hope to beat up on Sweden, to seal their advance out of Group D. On the other hand, the French were probably hoping for more than a draw but despite enjoying a majority of possession could not create too many scoring chances with only Alou Diarra coming close when his header was saved by Hart and his follow up went awry. Laurent Blanc has to be concerned with his centre backs who could be torn apart by both Sweden and Ukraine.

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