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Euro 2012 - England VS France Recap

England hold out for solid point against France in Donetsk

England are still without a win in the first game of a European Championship however they will have been pleased to snatch a point against the well fancied French in Donetsk.

Pre-tournament expectation surrounding the Three Lions has been at its lowest for years and Roy Hodgson’s squad kicked off their Euro 2012 campaign in the Ukraine on Monday evening devoid of the pressure which has arguably contributed to their many downfalls in the recent past.

The ex-Inter Milan boss fielded a rather predictable starting eleven due mainly to the fact that a number of key players had been ruled out of the equation with injury in the weeks leading up to the big kick off.

And Wayne Rooney, banned for the first two Group D ties after his red card antics against Montenegro in qualifying, watched on from the bench to see if Manchester United team mates Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck could make an impact for the national side up front in their first major international championship.

Although the Red Devils strikers performed reasonably well, it was evident from the outset that England lacked an obvious out and out front man and presence in attack, although both Young and Welbeck did cause France’s defence some problems through their pace and effective movement.

The contest never really hit top gear as Donetsk experienced temperatures of around 34 degrees but England got off to a decent start all told.

Hodgson’s charges had the better of the opening exchanges and could have taken an early lead but for James Milner fluffing his lines after rounding Hugo Lloris in the penalty area.

The French back four had come under scrutiny pre-tournament and their weaknesses were exposed on the half hour mark as Joleon Lescott stole in behind the cumbersome Phillipe Mexes from a Steven Gerrard free-kick to bundle the ball home.

England fans would have hoped that their side avoided going back into their shell having hit the front but unfortunately that was exactly what they did for the rest of the game.

France had already come dangerously close to scoring but for a tremendous save from Joe Hart however the Man City keeper was potentially at fault for the equaliser when it did arrive towards the end of the first period.

A slick passing move on the edge of the area allowed Samir Nasri a yard of space to shoot and the playmaker drilled a low, fizzing shot into the bottom left hand corner of the net as Hart failed to cover his near post.

England had brief spells of play after the break but it was France who dominated possession in the main, without quite having enough endeavour or penetration to force a winner.

The draw leaves both nations in a good position to qualify for the knockout stages but the pressure will definitely be on come Friday evening when England and France take on Sweden and Ukraine respectively – as anything less than three points will mean that a win will be needed in order to progress on match day three.