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England thwart France in 1-1 stalemate

France and England battled to a 1-1 stalemate in their opening Euro 2012 Group D match on Monday after Joleon Lescott's opener for England was cancelled out by Samir Nasri.

The match, played in warm humid conditions at a less than full Donbass Arena, saw England defend resolutely against a more inventive French side who are now unbeaten in 22 matches.

England made the breakthrough after 30 minutes when Lescott scored his first goal for his country, powerfully heading home a whipped Steven Gerrard free kick that left France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris floundering.

England only stayed ahead for nine minutes, though, before Lescott's Manchester City team mate Nasri fired France's equalizer past another club colleague in England goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Nasri beat Hart at the near post with a superbly struck shot from outside the penalty area, shortly after the keeper had made a brilliant reflex save from Alou Diarra's thundering header.

England manager Roy Hodgson, in charge for only six weeks, gambled on a bold line-up with teenager Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain called up for only his third appearance, and although he made some surging runs, his lack of a final product was noticeable compared to a succession of French attempts on goal.

England should have taken the lead in the 15th minute when James Milner rounded Lloris after a neat through ball from Ashley Young, but he fired into the side netting.

France dominated possession and looked sharper in attack than the English who defended well but far too deeply, allowing the French lots of room to maneuver.

Yohan Cabaye, Franck Ribery and Benzema all went close for France but could not find a second goal.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)