The Back of the Net boys report on England's 1-1 draw with France
France and England finished with honours even in Donetsk as the teams played out a 1-1 draw that left everyone completely satisfied, and also thoroughly unsatisfied.
Aware that a defeat could prove incredibly costly in what promises to be a tight group, both Laurent Blanc and Roy Hodgson began cautiously, leaving little that could be seized on by the other sideÃ¢ÂÂs players, or their own fans.
Ã¢ÂÂThe game left me absolutely delighted,Ã¢ÂÂ said Hodgson afterwards, echoing a widely-held view that was shared by precisely nobody. Ã¢ÂÂWe had to stop France from playing by making the 90 minutes as disappointing as possible. I think we achieved that spectacularly.Ã¢ÂÂ
Speaking to FourFourTwo, Laurent Blanc expressed similar sentiments. Ã¢ÂÂWe would have taken that beforehand,Ã¢ÂÂ he said. Ã¢ÂÂThat game was exactly what I wanted, though I wish I hadnÃ¢ÂÂt had to watch it.Ã¢ÂÂ
Joleon Lescott gave England the lead after 30 minutes by throwing his face in the way of a Steven Gerrard cross, but Samir Nasri equalised just nine minutes later after being given time and space to control the ball, turn, pick his spot, and tw*t it as hard as possible.
There was little further action, and although neither English nor French fans will be satisfied with the encounter, each set of supporters will grudgingly accept that it was perfectly satisfactory.
Ã¢ÂÂWe were second favourites coming into the game, but we gave the other side very little to cheer about, which our fans will certainly celebrate,Ã¢ÂÂ the official England and France SupportersÃ¢ÂÂ Associations said in a joint statement this morning.
Ã¢ÂÂAfter all, this vaguely mediocre yet hopeful start is already a huge improvement on that nightmarish debacle two years ago in South Africa.Ã¢ÂÂ
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