- match commentary
- European Championship Finals
- 11 June 2012, 4:00pm
- Donbass Arena
England claimed a 1-1 draw with France in their Euro 2012 Group D opener in Donetsk, as Samir Nasri cancelled out Joleon Lescott's header.
Lescott headed home Steven Gerrard's free-kick in the 30th minute at the Donbass Arena, but his Manchester City team-mate Nasri fired home a shot from the edge of the box after Franck Ribery's lay-off nine minutes later to draw Les Bleus level.
England went agonisingly close after 15 minutes when James Milner latched onto Ashley Young's pass and rounded Hugo Lloris, but he slipped slightly as he shot and put the ball wide of the unguarded net.
Nasri had shot wide just before that chance and Yohan Cabaye was the next Frenchman to try his luck, but Joe Hart got down well to keep out his shot.
England then got the breakthrough on the half-hour when Gerrard whipped over a lovely free-kick from the right and Lescott got in behind Alou Diarra to head home from close range.
France almost responded quickly but Hart did well to keep out a thumping header from Diarra, who then nodded wide when the ball came back into the middle.
And the French levelled when Ribery laid the ball back to Nasri, and his precise shot from just outside the area sneaked inside Hart's right-hand post.
The second-half began fairly quietly until Karim Benzema tested Hart with a powerful shot from distance and Glen Johnson blazed an effort over the bar soon afterwards.
Hart then had to be alert to keep out a Ribery drive at his near post and England decided to freshen things up with the introduction of Jermain Defoe and Jordan Henderson.
But it was France who came closest to a winner, Cabaye unleashing a fierce volley which deflected off Danny Welbeck and flew just wide before Hart saved well from Benzema deep into added-time.
match commentary: Ross McGinnes
FULL TIME: Hodgson and Gerrard said they'd take a draw before kick-off, and they've got one! Lescott gave Hodgson's underdogs the lead on the half-hour mark with a powerful header at the back post from Gerrard's free-kick, before Nasri beat his Man City team-mate Hart at his near-post with a fine strike. A steady start, on which a full report will follow - we'll also have live commentary on Ukraine v Sweden from 1945.
90+3 mins: France are working the ball from left to right but 'none shall pass'. Solid defending by England until Benzema has a dig from 20 yards which Hart gathers at the second attempt.
90+2 mins: Three minutes added on. Thanks for that, ITV.
90 mins: Third sub for England and it's Walcott coming on for Welbeck. I'd love to tell you how long's added on, but ITV don't want to share that info.
89 mins: Johnson spreads the ball crossfield to Cole, it's then worked out to the right again for Milner who crosses into Welbeck but Mexes slides in to boot it behind for a corner on the near side! Lescott gets his head to it but can't repeat his feat of the first half.
Adam, Basingstoke: "Hart for MOTM - without him we wouldn't have a chance in this game."
87 mins: France keep the ball well around the England box until Gerrard nicks it away from Ben Arfa and is fouled. Handy breather for England.
Cody, B'mouth: "who's paying off this ref, he is ridiculous, cabaye 4-5 challenges over looked one challenge from us yellow card, also no wounder we aint favourites, how r we meant to win wen we defend to deep an wen we counter there is 2in the box pathetic"
85 mins: France are knocking on the door! Benzema curls one to the back stick from 15 yards, Hart takes off to cover it but Gerrard gets his head on it for a corner which is cleared by Welbeck.
84 mins: Double sub by France, Cabaye and Malouda making way for Martin and Ben Arfa.
83 mins: Gerrard's header sets Defoe free down the left, he beats Rami, clips back to Welbeck but France intercept and bring it clear.
81 mins: Cabaye goes close! He rockets another long-ranger towards the left post where Welbeck gets an important touch to send it just wide for another corner! Hart claims this one with no bother.
80 mins: Nasri sends the free-kick in, it's cleared, Cabaye has a crack from distance and it takes a nick for a France corner on the far side.
79 mins: Ribery's rolling around after being brushed by Johnson's arm on the run. Pathetic. You've got your free-kick, get on with it.
78 mins: Double sub for England sees AOC and Parker make way for Parker and Henderson. The latter has my colleague Mark rolling his eyes. Young moves to the left with Defoe supporting Welbeck.
76 mins: Milner's picked out by Parker's through ball, it looks like it comes off his hand though, Evra has a nibble and he's left on the floor as the game plays on with France in possession.
74 mins: Great vision by Johnson to nip in and deny Benzema as he shapes to shoot in the box. It sets up an England break thanks to great running by Welbeck, but it goes to pot when AOC chooses not to shoot from 18 yards but to run straight into three blue shirts.
72 mins: Looks like England are readying some subs, possibly Defoe and Henderson. Another shove by Ribery, this time on AOC, yet again no yellow card.
70 mins: Young's the second England man in the book for a late slide on Benzema. Rash, unnecessary tackle.
68 mins: Cole heads behind for a corner, but it's a comfortable take for Hart in the middle of the six-yard box from the delivery.
66 mins: Johnson comes inside to out-fox Malouda and lets fly, but it's a country mile over the bar.
65 mins: Ironic cheers as the ref awards a free-kick against Cabaye in the middle.
64 mins: Evra cuts in from the right, finds Nasri, he feeds Benzema who rockets a shot into the middle of Hart's goal where he makes the stop and clings on well.
62 mins: Ribery's down in midfield after he's tackled by Gerrard (a perfectly good tackle, by the way) but England play on and Milner wins a corner on the near side. Terry's up for it, heads it back and France put it out for another corner. Gerrard takes to Terry in the same place, but this time the whistle goes for a push on Rami.
60 mins: Lescott reads Debuchy's run into the box well, gets across to put a foot in and win a goal-kick.
58 mins: Another blatant foul, yet again no free-kick! This time Ribery body-checks Johnson down the right flank!
57 mins: Sterling work by Milner to see off Mexes at the corner flag and hook a cross in but there's nobody in the six-yard box for England.
55 mins: Gerrard hoofs Evra's cut-back behind at the near post for a corner. Nasri takes, Terry heads clear but once again it's all France. The final ball in from Nasri is over the head of Diarra at the back post and out for a goal-kick.
53 mins: How is that not a free-kick? Gerrard plays a one-two and collects the return pass on the edge of the box where he's blatantly blocked and bundled over by Debuchy who doesn't get anything on the ball. The Italian ref waves play on.
50 mins: England win a corner on the near side but it's wasted, Gerrard floating it straight into the arms of Lloris who is put under zero pressure.
48 mins: Hart didn't want that! Milner under-hits a back-pass and he has to block with his legs at the feet of Nasri before clucthing the ball to his body.
46 mins: France get the second half started playing right to left with no subs to report. France attack and Parker takes a hand in the face from Ribery - he'll be fine though.
Josh, Yeovil: "Shout out to the lads at work relying on this for the score !!!!"
HALF TIME: England may be level, but they'll be glad to hear the whistle as France have been well on top since Nasri's equaliser. Lescott gave Hodgson's underdogs the lead on the half-hour mark with a powerful header at the back post from Gerrard's free-kick, before Nasri beat his Man City team-mate Hart at his near-post with a fine strike. Keep your thoughts coming on the game, and join me for the second half at 1805.
45 mins: There's one minute added on as Hart saves a close-range pop from Benzema at his right-hand post. Corner comes to 'rien'.
44 mins: France attack once more with Ribery, Benzema and Cabaye. Nasri spreads it to Evra, it's the fed to Cabaye who has a crack from fully 30 yards and it takes a nick off Milner for a corner which Hart punches clear just ahead of Rami.
42 mins: Terry cuts out another cross for a corner on the far side as Nasri, Ribery and Benzema steam forward. Nasri delivers but Parker heads clear. France keep the pressure on, Terry clearing a cross once again. England riding out a storm at the mo.
39 mins: NASRI BEATS HART AT HIS NEAR POST! Wonderful accuracy by Nasri to beat his City team-mate from 20 yards with his right peg, but Hart will be "disappointed with that one, Brian." His sight may have been blocked by Gerrard in a crowded box.
37 mins: Evra bids to pick out Benzema but Terry's well place to clear. Nasri's then allowed to turn but he's blocked by Parker.
35 mins: France go close! The free-kick's sent in from the right, Diarra gets above Gerrard to power a header on goal which Hart acrobatically beats away, it's hooked back in and Diarra can't get a second header on target!
34 mins: AOC slides in on Debuchy down the right, the England man picking up the first booking of the game.
31 mins: Watching the replays, that's a great run and header. Blimey. I was eyeing Lescott's odds as first goalscorer before kick-off but 80-1 was too long for even my tastes!
30 mins: LESCOTT HEADS ENLGAND IN FRONT! Gerrard delivers the perfect free-kick from the right, Lescott rises on the run at the back stick and powers a header past Lloris for his first ever goal for England!
28 mins: Terry hesitates when coming to meet a Cabaye through ball but France can't make anything of it.
27 mins: Johnson finds Gerrard in the middle, he then picks out the run of Milner down the right of the box but the flag's up. In any case it's cleared.
25 mins: Sustained spell of pressure by France as Ribery, Benzema and Cabaye link up in midfield, Terry eventually doing well to cut out a cross from Debuchy.
Jeffers, IOW: "come on England Make us proud ..We can beat this lot !!!"
23 mins: Fret ye not, thumbs up from the England physio. Welbeck trots back on.
22 mins: This could be bad. Welbeck goes down clutching his left ankle after going up for a header with Rami, whose left boot lands fully on Welbeck's joint.
20 mins: More positive stuff from England. Milner gets in behind Evra and crosses at the second attempt but it's cleared to Johnson. He looks to find Welbeck but it's over-hit and out for a throw on the near side.
Melv in Birmingham: "Gutted i'm at work! Like to see oxlade-chamberlain link up with young and welbeck!"
18 mins: Ooohhh... close. AOC steps away from two blue shirts down the left and picks out a white one, but Young's run is mistimed a shade and the flag goes up for offside.
Zoobie, Chesterfield"Play as a team and not a bunch of strangers"
16 mins: Cabaye has a crack from distance which Hart beats away and gathers at the second attempt down to his left.
15 mins: England's best chance so far! (OK, only chance). Young spots the run of Milner across the box, he rounds Lloris, gets a touch wide and can't get his shot on target, hitting the side netting!
13 mins: Ribery gets away from Parker by the flag, it's cut back to Benzema but England clear. Young clashes with Evra down the right after a fine long ball by Gerrard but the Italian ref Nicola Rizzoli isn't interested.
11 mins: Nasri shifts the ball onto his right foot and gets sights in with a low 20-yarder which Hart is relieved to see drift a yard wide.
John, Manchester: "Stuck at work :( Come on England !! we know we can do it !!"
9 mins: Ribery's set free down the left on the break, he goes for the line but Johnson stands up to him well and it's out for a corner. Hart spills the ball into the box, half the stadium gasps but Johnson's on hand to hack it clear.
7 mins: Foul by Cole on Nasri who takes a tumble. Malouda swings the free-kick in from the right looking for Benzema at the back stick but Terry heads clear. It's swung back in and Hart claims.
Christian, Southampton: "Wellbeck instead of Carrol is the big news. England mit actually try 2 pass it a bit, the Swansea way, instead of lumpin it up 2 that useless lug. He's a poor mans Carlton Cole. Still gona b 1-0 France, Benzema"
5 mins: Nasri flicks beautifully over the top to Benzema who wins a corner off Terry. It's bent in to the near post from the far side but Welbeck heads clear. France keep the pressure on though before Nasri's ball to Rami goes out for a throw.
4 mins: France retain the ball at the back after a few passes go stray in midfield. Rami then looks for Nasri but Parker gets a foot in.
3 mins: AOC gets his head down for the first time and races for the box, but his ball to Welbeck is cut out and cleared.
2 mins: Milner finds Welbeck down the right, he lays it off to Young but is caught offside with the return ball.
0 mins: Here goes nothing. England get us under way playing right to left, all in white, France in their iconic blue.
1658: God Save The Queen is belted out by all the England players, though I think there may have been some freestyling by Welbeck at the start. La Marseillaise sounds ace, as ever.
Phil, Hull: "come on england, lets only lose by a couple and go out swinging!!!"
Ghetly, Bombay: "Thanks for the live coverage. Good to see Walcott not included in the starting line up, would have preferred Adam Johnson (Manc) instead of Walcott on the bench!!!"
1655: They're out into the cauldron (not just trotting that one out, it is a touch warm) that is the Donbass Arena. Time for the anthems.
1654: France join England in the tunnel. Both sides have already got a sweat on. Toasty.
1652: England are in the tunnel, waiting for France to rock up. Blimey, even the usually-jocular Joe Hart look intense.
1646: Injury woe for England in the warm-up! Don't spit your tea out, it's not *that* bad. Goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence has done his Achilles and has to be carried off the pitch. Let's hope that's the only setback England have today.
Mph in Taunton: "Should have played walcott instead of milner and scare the french with pace"
1643: On 18-year-old AOC starting, Roy Hodgson tells ITV: "He's just been so impressive in the game against the Belgians at Wembley and in training. He gives us a balance in the team that is useful - if he tires then we have other alternatives." TIRES? He's 18! He should be running round like a Jack Russell with a tennis ball for 90 minutes, whatever the weather.
1630: Half an hour til kick-off. Time to get yourself down the pub if you've got a kind boss, or stick with us if they're a miserable slave-driver. Keep your predictions coming!
Scott, Borehamwood: "Excited to see the likes of Oxlad-Chamberlain and Welbeck starting, i think they will add that needed bit of fkare to the game while the likes of terry and parker will add stability to our team, reckon we have what it takes, 2-1 to the three lions for me."
Millwallchris, London: "Just glad that dopey downing isn't playing, hopefully we can sneak a draw or a 1-0 victory. Can't see us getting either though to be honest."
1624: It's sweltering at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk. If you had a ticket, the necessary cooking materials and took advantage of an extraordinary lapse in stewarding, you could fry an egg on Ashley Young's head. In these conditions you feel France's ice jackets aren't as daft as they sound.
Bob from Watford: "Yeh,we start game as underdogs,but isnt that what we do best,pull a result when we really need it.we have a great back 5,if the Ox starts, France will be running scared,and i have Gerrard to score 1st and us to win 3-1, so COME ON ENGLAND!!!"
1613: BlueSpire (below) is one of many delighted that Oxlade-Chamberlain (hereon in known as AOC as it's too much for my sausagey fingers to type at speed) has got the nod ahead of Downing. "It was a toss-up between lack of experience and lack of talent," says a colleague who shall remain nameless.
BlueSpire in Derby: "Delighted to hear the Ox starting in place of Downing! This is the first piece of optimism I've felt for us in the tournament!"
1600: Afternoon all, and welcome to Orange's live commentary on England's opening game in Group D as they take on in-form France in Donetsk. The teams are in - scroll down to see the full line-ups. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain starts for England for just the second time while Danny Welbeck is up top. France name an expected XI including Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri. Use the 'text the commentator' box on the right to send in your predictions and any bets you've got on (1-0 Benzema for me) - I'll publish the best in the build-up to kick-off, and throughout the game.
Alan Knight, Somerset: "First time i don,t want to watch an England game. We need a decent Manager with a team with Flair and Pace. What we,ve got is the same old RUBBISH. We,ve the best league in the world, so why not put out a decent team"
France: Lloris, Debuchy, Rami, Mexes, Evra, Nasri, Cabaye, Diarra, Malouda, Ribery, Benzema. Subs: Mandanda, Giroud, Matuidi, Reveillere, Menez, M'Vila, Martin, Ben Arfa, Valbuena, Clichy, Koscielny, Carrasso.
England: Hart, Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole, Milner, Gerrard, Parker, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Young, Welbeck. Subs: Green, Walcott, Henderson, Carroll, Baines, Jones, Jagielka, Downing, Defoe, Butland.