Nasri helps France draw rival England
DONETSK, Ukraine (AP)
Joleon Lescott put England in the lead with a header in the 30th minute, and Samir Nasri leveled for France shortly before halftime with a strike into the bottom corner.
The draw means France has still not won a match at a major tournament since the 2006 World Cup. The national team, however, is unbeaten in its last 22 matches.
''I think we have to be happy with that,'' France coach Laurent Blanc said. ''We were too timid at the start, there was a bit of pressure that got to us, and then we got better actually after we conceded the goal - that's when we started playing.''
England took the lead when captain Steven Gerrard curled in a free kick from the right after Patrice Evra had fouled James Milner, and Lescott was able to nod the ball past France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
France's equalizer was all about one-touch football as Florent Malouda, Evra and Franck Ribery flicked the ball around the left side of England's penalty area to free up space for Nasri, who put in a low shot before England goalkeeper Joe Hart could react.
After running away in celebration, television replays showed Nasri had shouted ''Ferme ta geule,'' or ''Shut your mouth,'' as he looked in the direction of the England bench. He then brought his finger to his lips as if to tell someone to hush.
In the final seconds of the match, Hart pushed away Karim Benzema's goal-bound strike. Moments before, the Real Madrid forward's curling effort was heading for the top corner until it was headed clear, and Yohan Cabaye's controlled shot in the 80th minute beat Hart but was deflected away just before it reached the bottom corner.
''We'll look at our performance and analyze what we've done right and what we've done wrong,'' Gerrard said. ''I think all in all we're satisfied with a point.''
In a strange atmosphere at the Donbass Arena, French fans struggled to make themselves heard and England's supporters were sometimes drowned out by a large amount of fans chanting ''Russia, Russia.''
The French finished the match with 19 shots, 15 of them on target. England managed only three, and only one on target.
''In the second half, I think we could have scored a second goal,'' Blanc said. ''But overall, I think it's a fair draw for both sides.''
Hodgson handed 18-year-old midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a surprise start - his third appearance for England.
''Wayne Rooney showed all those years ago that if you're good enough, you're old enough,'' Gerrard said, referring to Rooney's impressive performances as an 18-year-old player at Euro 2004. ''Oxlade-Chamberlain showed tonight he is good enough for this level. He's still got a lot of learning to do, but playing with experienced players he'll pick that up.''
England should have taken the lead in the 15th when Milner ran onto Ashley Young's perfectly weighted pass behind the defense, got around Lloris but then hit the side netting.
France will next face co-host Ukraine on Friday while England plays Sweden.
France: Hugo Lloris, Mathieu Debuchy, Adil Rami, Philippe Mexes, Patrice Evra, Yohan Cabaye (Hatem Ben Afra, 84) Alou Diarra, Florent Malouda (Marvin Martin, 85), Samir Nasri, Karim Benzema, Franck Ribery.
England: Joe Hart, Glen Johnson, John Terry, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole, James Milner, Steven Gerrard, Scott Parker (Jordan Henderson, 78), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Jermin Defoe, 77), Ashley Young, Danny Welbeck (Theo Walcott, 90).