France’s Franck Ribery goes for the ball during Monday’s Euro 2012 Group D match against England in Donetsk, Ukraine. The two soccer powers settled for a 1-1 draw following 90 minutes of action.
DONETSK, Ukraine — England held on for a 1-1 draw with France on Monday at the European Championship, giving the Group D favorites one point each.
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 of the net.
France still has 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 fouled James Milner. Lescott sneaked behind a defender and was able to nod the ball past France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. It was England’s only on-target shot.
France’s equalizer was all about one-touch football. 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 shouting “Shut your mouth,” in French 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 shot. Moments before, the Real Madrid forward’s curling effort was heading for the top corner until it was headed clear. Yohan Cabaye’s controlled shot in the 80th minute also 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 on target. England managed only three toward Lloris.
England coach Roy Hodgson handed 18-year-old midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a surprise start — his third appearance for England. And the English 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.
Ukraine 2, Sweden 1
KIEV, Ukraine — Andriy Shevchenko made his coach look brilliant, scoring two great headers Monday to give Ukraine a 2-1 win over Sweden at the European Championship.
After Zlatan Ibrahimovic had given Sweden the lead in the 52nd minute, Shevchenko responded by heading in the equalizer just three minutes later and then added the winner in the 61st.
The victory gives Ukraine a serious chance of advancing from Group D after England and France drew 1-1, while Sweden faces an uphill battle to remain in the tourney.
Shevchenko is already a national icon in Ukraine and carried the hopes of the team going into the tournament. In front of sea of yellow and blue in the packed Olympic Stadium, he certainly didn’t disappoint. He rewarded the faith coach Oleg Blokhin showed in the veteran.,
Showing flashes of the scorer’s instinct that once made him one of the world’s top strikers, Shevchenko beat Olof Mellberg to a cross for his first goal and then met a corner to head the ball inside the near post for the second.
That set off shouts of “Sheva” that could reverberate throughout the nation for a long time.
These days it’s Ibrahimovic who is considered a world-class forward, but AC Milan’s current star came up short against its former standout forward.
Ibrahimovic did provide the focal point of the Swedish attack and shaved the post with a header in the first half before putting his team ahead.
Kim Kallstrom collected a long cross at the left side of the penalty area and sent it to Ibrahimovic in front of the net. The Sweden striker calmly slotted the ball past Andriy Pyatov and into the net.
But Sweden seemed to relax after that and Shevchenko took advantage by meeting Oleh Gusev’s cross and sending his header past Andreas Isaksson.
That made the home crowd erupt and the noise grew even louder six minutes later as the 35-year-old Shevchenko’s header from a corner found its way past defender Mikael Lustig at the near post. That sent Blokhin jumping up and down the sideline and waving his hand frenetically.
Ibrahimovic had one good chance to equalize, but his hard, swerving shot was saved by Pyatov. Substitute Johan Elmander and Mellberg both shot high in the final minutes.
Shevchenko was given a well-deserved standing ovation as was taken off in the 81st, while Ibrahimovic strode off the field immediately after the final whistle with his head down.MORE IN Sports WireINDIANAPOLIS — Lance Stephenson scored nine of his playoff career-high 23 points during a late... Full Story
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