Manchester City made its mark on the English football world with its stunning run to the Premier League title. So it should come as little surprise that City players are stepping up on the Euro 2012 stage.
Joleon Lescott nodded home a brilliant in-swinging free kick from Steven Gerrard in the 30th minute to open the scoring. But nine minutes later, Man City striker Samir Nasri drilled a low shot through traffic and inside the left post for the equalizer.
The French controlled posession for much of the second half as the English tired and willingly packed into their own end to preserve the draw. And despite a few prime opportunities, France could not pull out a win.
Playing without the suspended Wayne Rooney, England turned to 26-year-old Ashley Young and 22-year-old Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck up top. Both appeared dangerous in spurts, but England sat back for much of the day, content to defend and counter-attack. The English will be Rooney-less for one more contest when they face Sweden in their next group match.
“We would have been delighted with a win,” Gerrard said. “France have fantastic players, but we created as many chances as they did. We’re satisfied with the performance.”
France, which came into the tournament looking to put a disastrous World Cup 2012 flame-out behind them, pushed forward in attack, likely left the field with different feelings. They out-shot England 21-5 and held the ball for 65 percent of the match, but Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and company struggled to pick apart England’s compact back line. And when they did, England goalkeeper Joe Hart was equal to the task.
Still, the French could be the class of the group, as expected, and will be itching for more offense when they take on co-host Ukraine on Friday.