England hold France in Euro opener
England’s Euro 2012 campaign got off to a promising start in Donetsk. Joleon Lescott’s header gave England the lead. Although Samir Nasri equalised for France just before half-time, England held on for a draw and even had a couple of chances to win the game.
Manager Roy Hodgson put his trust in a couple of the squad’s younger players. Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started on the right, and Manchester United’s striker Danny Welbeck was arguably England’s best player.
"I hope this gives us a good platform," Hodgson said. "We played well and I am obviously pleased for the players most of all. We were playing against a top team who ask questions of you when they get the ball."
England showed the organisation and tactical discipline that has been in evidence in the short time since Hodgson took over. The players still struggle to retain possession and play accurate passes. "Sure, we need to improve our final ball," he said. "The decision-making in the final third was sometimes a bit anxious, but we'll get better. The longer we play together, the better we'll become."
It was Lescott’s first goal for England, but the Manchester City defender preferred to put the focus on the overall team performance. "You know what you will get with an English team – plenty of pride and passion," he said, "but we also looked good going forward and we can build on this. We had a gameplan here and now we can be confident going into every game."