Euro 2012: England and France draw, Shevchenko leads Ukraine to victory

England france

By JOHN BOSCHINI

For England and France, Monday's Group D opener provided an acceptable, if not ideal, start to their European Championship campaign.

A first-half opener from Joleon Lescott was canceled out by a superb strike from Samir Nasri as the two teams battled to a 1-1 draw in Ukraine. France had the majority of possession and shots but were unable to break down an English defense that was content to remain defensive as the game went on. 

France were dominant in possession for the opening 15 minutes but the first real chance of the game was wasted by England. James Milner was put clean through on goal with a perfectly weighted pass from Ashley Young in the 15th minute. Milner's first touch took him past French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris but his shot from a tight angle was well wide of the open net.

England took full advantage when another opportunity came along. Steven Gerrard's outswinging free kick was expertly nodded home by Lescott on the half-hour mark. England sat back after the goal and were almost punished but Joe Hart denied Alou Diarra's point-blank header and the subsequent rebound was sent wide. The equalizer did come just six minutes from halftime when Franck Ribery's lay off was fired past Hart from 22 yards out. The England goalkeeper saw it late but had a shot at keeping it out.

The excitement of the first half gave way to a tense second period where chances were scarce. Hart was forced into a couple of decent saves thanks to long-range efforts but neither team looked likely to score. 

In the other Group D match:

UKRAIN 2, SWEDEN 1

Ukraine's hopes for advancement into the quarterfinals received a massive boost as Andriy Shevchenko  scored a second-half double to give the co-hosts a 2-1 victory over Sweden.

The first half saw several quality chances but no goals. That changed quickly as Zlatan Ibrahimovic narrowly beat the offsides trap to turn Markus Rosenberg's low cross into the net from six yards out just seven minutes after the restart.

The Swedish captain's goal was answered three minutes later by the Ukrainian skipper. Shevchenko headed in Andriy Yarmolenko's cross from close range before giving Ukraine the lead with a strong header off a corner kick just after the hour mark.

Sweden's best chance for an equalizer came just at the end of the 90 minutes. Ibrahimovic's deft chip over the Ukranian back line gave Johan Elmander a shot from eight yards out but the substitute put his shot over the bar.

Sweden must now beat both France and England to have a realistic chance at qualifying for the knockout stages. Ukraine, on the other hand, end the first round of games at the top of Group D despite being the lowest ranked team in the group.

Group D Standings

1. Ukraine (3 points, 1-0-0, +1 GD)

T-2. France (1 point, 0-0-1, 0 GD)

T-2. England (1 point, 0-0-1, 0 GD)

4. Sweden (0 points, 0-1-0, -1 GD)

————–

What did you think of today's games? Should England and France be happy with a draw? Can Ukraine pull of a shocker and advance? Is Sweden's tournament already over?

Share your thoughts below.

Rosenberg 
This entry was posted in Euro 2012. Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Euro 2012: England and France draw, Shevchenko leads Ukraine to victory

  1. somedude says:

    France on that 22 game unbeaten streak.

  2. uksubs says:

    Sheva to MLS

  3. Nate says:

    Sweden is done. They’re not going to win out, so any damage they do to France or England will only help Ukraine. Great game; I really thought Sweden was going to level in the last 10 or so.

  4. Eric says:

    No. Certainly not for DP money anyways. Yes, he had a great game and he was one of the best players of his generation but at 35, almost 36, MLS needs to move away from the ‘retirement league’ perception.

    If Chicago suddenly signed him as a DP, I’d be pissed. I don’t think he can hold up over an entire season in a league as physical as MLS. If we signed him for non-DP money then I’d still be skeptical.

  5. Eurosnob says:

    While I share your general concern about signing the aging “over the hill” stars to play in MLS, I am not sure I agree with you that Sheva’s signing would hurt the league’s perception. MLS has never had a Ballon D’Or winner play in the league and signing Sheva would give them the first one. As for Sheva’s ability to respond to physical play, didn’t you just see him to score two headers against the Sweedish team whose players are all at least 6.4 tall?

  6. Eric says:

    Doing it over the course of one game in a tournament where you’re representing your country (which your country is hosting) is one thing. It’s much easier to do that when emotions are high and they push you to play harder.

    It’s an entirely different thing to do that over the course of a season in a physical league that deals with weather like MLS. Can you imagine him doing that every game if he has to play in Houston or Dallas heat? It’s just hard to imagine a 36 year old being worth DP money over the course of the season.

    I think it would be cool to see Sheva in MLS, and he does have an American wife so it may be an option, but I just don’t think it’s a good investment for an MLS team. Now, if he decides to sign for less than DP money, then I’d be willing to possibly take a gamble.

  7. Dabes2 says:

    More likely to have kids play for the USA one day — hamm-graciaparra, beckh, or shevchenko?
    W

  8. David J S says:

    not sure if this was a rhetorical question or not, but i’d say 1. hamm/nomar, 2. sheva, 3. becks. All 3 will have athletic genes, but Hamm/Nomar’s kid will arguably be the most likely to be a pro athlete. Also would be the most likely to choose the USA given he’s that good. Given that any of their kids would be international quality footballers, the nationalist pull for Sheva’s kid to represent Ukraine would be strong, but couldn’t be as strong as England would be to little Becks. Their national team is so romanticized that it’d be nearly impossible to turn them down. Also it’s probably a given that England’s team would be more competitive than Ukraine.
    That was quite a thoughtout response considering I’m not even convinced it was a serious question. haha I have way too much time on my hands…

  9. BCC says:

    The early games have been tough to watch–way too much caution. Spain’s lack of a forward for much of the game seemed cynical.

    Funny to me how so many teams would rather wait for their tournament life to be on the line before opening up on the attack.

    On another note, someone at ESPN needs to step up and end the Michael Ballack experiment. He’s just brutal.

  10. pd says:

    Sweden will beat England. Or rather, England will beat itself against Sweden. Same for Ukraine, who will also draw against France to win the group but then hit a buzzsaw in the quarterfinals. France beats Sweden to finish second in the group.

  11. pd says:

    That’s assuming Putin doesn’t have Russia gobble up Ukraine again in the next 10 years…

  12. pd says:

    I think between the nerves and the fact that most teams are taught to pace themselves it’s pretty much par for the course. Besides, the Germans and Italians have a history of starting slow in big tourneys. The nice thing is that many of the underdog/dark horse teams (Denmark, Poland, Ukraine) have been quick out of the gate to nick some points as a result, making things much more interesting from here on out (shame about Ireland…) it’s going to force teams like the Dutch, Portuguese and Swedes to play more open, which is good.

  13. Rlw2020 says:

    He was rumored to sign not too long ago but decided that he wanted to raise his kids in ukraine for cultural reasons. That aside good player but i agree with other posters MLS should not collect too many old dps more Saborio, Montero, Juninho, Donovan types.

  14. ld says:

    alexi lalas still having a job at espn after all these many years is a mystery.. he is lucky to have a job. he is nothin but hot air,Ballack is much better

  15. Phil K says:

    Ballack made Lalas look like an idiot today. He really shouldn’t have a job with ESPN anymore.

  16. BCC says:

    I agree on Lalas — he isn’t much fun to listen to, either. Ballack and Lalas have no chemistry, and their exchanges are often awkward, full of dead space. I would rather hear Twellman and Tommy Smyth. Ray Hudson would be a revelation, but there is no way he will ever work for Disney given his penchant for using “interesting” metaphors.

    Seems to me that many teams think that the tournament would be over if they lose the first game. It’s a mistake. Ukraine played with passion, something I might have expected from Spain or England.

    Maybe Bob Bradley has been doing some consulting work in Europe?

  17. Dulliwhig says:

    I thought there was noticable tension between Ballack and Lalas – and it really seemed like Ballack went out of his way to contradict anything Alexei said. Love him or hate him, Lalas will speak his mind.

  18. wanker says:

    pd, You are f*cking a$$hole!

  19. ag nigrin says:

    I thought they were both very entertaining and I used to rag on Lalas but I think he is doing a very good job and has matured in the job!

  20. Rlw2020 says:

    Ballack should never be on tv again. I felt like throwing out my tv after watching him talk about nothing with rossi.

    Seriously ballack has nothing good to add

  21. David J S says:

    I think Lalas and Ballack together are awesome, mostly because Ballack is a cocky pr*ck and Lalas lives carrying the soccer-inferiority complex of an entire nation on his back. That’s why they disagree on basically everything and generally seem to detest one another. Ballack thinks Alexei should be shining his shoes, not sitting next to him giving his two cents on equal footing, and Lalas hates the European ‘soccer elite’ that Ballack, more so than the other international commentators on ESPN, represents. I think it’s quite entertaining to see such opposite characters, plus they genuinely give very different perspectives on the matches.

  22. Matthew says:

    False – Fire signed Stoichkov.
    He won the ballon d’or in 1994

  23. joejoe says:

    England played the most boring and uninspiring football. Too bad because unlike other countries they have enough players to mount a decent attack. But they decided to park the bus and wait to counter. The quicker they leave the tournament the better.

  24. Josh says:

    Don’t discount Ballack’s background. He was born in East Germany, hardly an elite soccer nation, and for quite some time he was the only player from the former East Germany on the national team. Granted, he was easily the best German field player of his generation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a time when he was, or was seen as the rank outsider looking in.

    What Ballack undisputably is by all accounts is an alpha male, something that’s rubbed his teammates the wrong way on occasion, so if he thinks Lalas should be shining his shoes (and for the record, I agree with him), it’s probably due more to his personality than his soccer pedigree.

  25. Neruda says:

    Ballack is amusing with his desire for entertaining offensive play. He was right about three lions being a bore but lalas was right about England playing for the point. It’s a defender and an attacking player taking opposite sides.

    McManaman (Macky) sounded silly with his open homer statements about England having better players than Ukraine and Sweden. It’s always unsettling to hear broadcasters refer to a team they’re covering as “us” and “we.”

    England will struggle against both Sweden and Ukraine. They have bigger names but lets stop confusing big names with big results. England simply isn’t creative enough to win big tournaments.

  26. gene says:

    Lalas can say stupid things on occasion (OK, very stupid things), but he is entertaining and he genuinely loves the game and wants to promote it in the US. He is perfect for the job:)

    Ballack’s comments have been pretty informative. And his reserved manner is quite a contrast to Alexi. I think this combination works OK for ESPN.

  27. Dennis says:

    Not sure I can agree on the comment about Lalas, except for the very stupid part.

  28. MASE NJRB says:

    Is it just me or does Rossi seem abnormal, physically and mentally?

  29. drew says:

    “England simply isn’t creative enough to win big tournaments.” See Greece 2004.

  30. Nate says:

    That’s a good point. I’d forgotten that England will be facing both Sweden and it’s own miserable failings.

  31. Nate says:

    *its

  32. Mig22 says:

    So Ribery and Sheva were my MOTMs yesterday. Ribery covered more ground than I thought was humanly possible and looked dangerous all day.

    Sheva…well c’mon that was a legend adding to his mythology in front of our eyes.

  33. Eurosnob says:

    You are right, I completely forgot about Stoichkov, who played for Fire and DCU.

  34. Timbers Fan says:

    Ballack: yeah, I’ve met metal folding chairs with more personality.