England hold on for France draw

Blackpool Citizen: Joleon Lescott (centre) scored England's opener before France equalised as they shared a 1-1 draw Joleon Lescott (centre) scored England's opener before France equalised as they shared a 1-1 draw

England clung on for a share of the spoils as they recorded a 1-1 draw in their opening Euro 2012 clash with France after taking the lead through Joleon Lescott's first goal for his country.

Lescott headed home a Steven Gerrard free-kick after half an hour but England could only hold the lead for nine minutes as Samir Nasri struck from the edge of the area and England never really looked like restoring their advantage - instead relying on the obdurate defensive traits that have been so evident in Roy Hodgson's previous two friendlies in charge.

As France are expected to advance from Group D, the new manager could be pretty pleased with the outcome on a sweltering night.

Gerrard curled over a superb free-kick from the touchline, where James Milner had been nudged over by Patrice Evra. Manchester City's Lescott is a threat in these situations and got away from Alou Diarra at the far post to beat goalkeeper Hugo Lloris from point-blank range.

It could quite easily have been doubling the advantage as not long before, Milner had raced onto Ashley Young's through-ball and skipped round Lloris but the ball ended up rolling wide.

A nervy-looking Joe Hart produced a fine save to deny Diarra, who climbed highest to reach a Nasri free-kick, very similar in execution to Gerrard's earlier. Franck Ribery cut the rebound back into the danger area but Diarra was unable to locate the target.

On their next attack, France had more success. An intricate passing move on the edge of the area, starting with Evra, led to Ribery rolling a pass back to Nasri, who gave himself space with the first touch and beat Joe Hart with his second.

Karim Benzema's ferocious long-range effort was well saved by Hart and from a similar distance, Florent Malouda's shot cannoned into Scott Parker.

The outstanding Yohan Cabaye then came agonisingly close with another well-struck shot that flicked narrowly wide off Danny Welbeck. By this stage, England had introduced Jermain Defoe in an effort to provide Welbeck with more orthodox support.

Injury-time brought just one French opportunity, for Benzema, but Hart saved to complete a decent night's work for Hodgson's men, even if solid - rather than spectacular - looks to be the way forward.

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