Euro 2012 England player ratings – France 1-1 England

A gritty England performance ensured it was honours even with France in the opening fixture of Group D. The Three Lions started the brighter of the two teams and carved out a golden opportunity on 15 minutes when James Milner, rushing on to a through ball from Ashley Young, rounded Hugo Lloris but could only find the side netting with his weaker left-foot. England did get their just reward on the half-hour mark as Joleon Lescott broke away from his marker to head in a teasing Steven Gerrard free-kick six yards from goal.

The breakthrough meant that the English had something to protect and Hodgson’s men retreated deeper towards their goal line as possession came at a premium. Eventual man of the match, Samir Nasri, made England pay just nine minutes after the opener as the playmaker fired in a low drive that beat his unsighted Manchester City teammate, Joe Hart, at his near post. Clear-cut chances after the interval were limited. Les Bleus starved England of the ball for long periods but Karim Benzema’s long-range efforts were the best the French could muster as both sides take a deserved point into their second group fixtures.

Starting line-up:

Hart

Johnson – Terry – Lescott – Cole

Milner – Gerrard – Parker – Oxlade-Chamberlain

Young

Welbeck

1 Joe Hart
Rating: 6/10
After an edgy start, England’s no. 1 was characteristically solid between the sticks and made an instinctive save from a point-blank Alou Diarra header prior to the goal. Looked to be somewhat unsighted for the French equaliser but Nasri’s powerfully-placed strike found its way in at Hart’s near post. Got down smartly to block long-range efforts from Benzema, especially late-on after a slight deflection. Reassured the defence by claiming the majority of crosses whilst choosing to punch on a few occasions.

2 Glen Johnson
Rating: 7/10
The Liverpool right-back kept the lively Franck Ribery in front of him for most part and, where possible, got forward down his flank to support England offensively. Covered his centre-back teammates with a crucial intervention to snuff out a well-placed Benzema.

6 John Terry
Rating: 7/10
Chelsea’s captain put in a confident performance at the heart of the defence. When called upon, the centre-half dealt with any aerial threat with typical assurance. Often without anyone to mark as Benzema frequently dropped into midfield. Kept the opposition from sliding in behind the England backline which appears to suit both starting centre-halves. Tough to recall any individual error.

15 Joleon Lescott
Rating: 7/10
Got England off to a well-deserved lead as the centre-back headed home the opener from close-range. Appeared to lose Diarra, who forced a good save from Hart, however, he did well to put off the Frenchman following the cut back by Ribery. His partnership with Terry showed signs of promise but the Manchester City defender could tighten-up his focus when in possession.

3 Ashley Cole
Rating: 7/10
The left-back has been one of the national team’s most dependable performers – none more so than in games of importance – and little evidence emerged to suggest this was in jeopardy. Seldom fazed by the world stage, the 31-year-old displayed composure throughout and on the rare occasion that the opposing right-back, Mathieu Debuchy, slipped past, his teammates covered diligently.

16 James Milner
Rating: 6/10
Had a hit and miss type of game. Missed the game’s first clear-cut chance as he fired wide, on his weaker left-foot, after rounding Hugo Lloris. As expected, worked tirelessly when England were without the ball and doubled-up well with his full-back when needed. Was keen to spring forward when the opportunity arose and was fouled for the free-kick which led to the opener. Nearly turned provider for England late-on but for a Phillipe Mexes interception. Distribution rather untidy at times.

4 Steven Gerrard
Rating: 7/10
Delivered a sublime free-kick to assist Lescott for England’s breakthrough. Operated from a deeper role in central midfield, as has become the norm for the Liverpool skipper, but was guilty of forcing play when he might have kept possession. Offers plenty of tenacity and organisation defensively – however, seemed to have earned a free-kick in a dangerous position, after a typical driving run, had it not been for the referee.

17 Scott Parker
Rating: 7/10
Grew into the game as it wore on. The Tottenham workhorse, accompanied by his midfield partner, sat deep to provide stability in front of the back four but this arguably aided the French reply. Was a constant annoyance to the attack-minded French players with some important challenges and timely blocks, yet looked for the simple option when in possession.

20 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Rating: 6/10
Showed glimpses, early on, of why Arsenal invested so heavily in the teenager. Positioned out on the left wing might not have been the 18-year-old’s preferred role and his influence quickly faded because of England’s inability to locate the highly-rated talent. However, the youngster did pose a threat when given the ball. Harshly booked in the first-half where there seemed minimal contact.

11 Ashley Young
Rating: 6/10
Displayed excellent link-up play with his Manchester United colleague, Danny Welbeck, in the early stages with intricate passing and movement but he, like Oxlade-Chamberlain, struggled to make a sustained impact on the fixture. Looked menacing when in the gap between midfield and defence – showed this by playing the killer ball for the Milner chance. Moved out to the left as Jermaine Defoe was introduced. Booked.

22 Daniel Welbeck
Rating: 7.5/10
Slotted straight into the lone striker role and performed admirably when fed the ball. The forward’s intelligent movement had Les Bleus’ central defenders scrambling to mark the Manchester United front man. The 21-year-old demonstrated both great awareness and composure in his hold-up play, whilst showing astute technicality with some neat passes and touches. Got a vital defensive deflection on Yohan Cabaye’s goal-bound effort late-on. Unable to register a shot on target but is a probable starter for the next fixture against Sweden given his performance here.

Substitutions:

77: Henderson on for Parker
77: Defoe on for Oxlade-Chamberlain
90: Walcott on for Welbeck

8 Jordan Henderson
Rating: 5/10

Replaced the industrious Parker in a like-for-like change to freshen-up the central area of midfield. Little time to influence the game.

21 Jermaine Defoe
Rating: 5/10
Took Oxlade-Chamberlain’s place although he was moved to spearhead England’s attack with Welbeck playing off him and Ashley Young switching to the left wing. Insufficient time to stamp any authority on the match.

7 Theo Walcott
Rating: 5/10
Brought on in injury time for the impressive Welbeck.

Roy Hodgson
Rating: 7/10
Overall, Roy Hodgson’s tactics achieved what they set out to do – frustrate France in the final third and make England hard to beat. The England boss made the bold decision of starting Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead of the more experienced Stewart Downing – a courageous move, although England’s sloppiness in possession was to blame for the teenager’s short-lived influence. The 65-year-old decided to stay faithful to the system throughout the 90 minutes and gave his substitutions minimal time to alter the path of the result.

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