England draw with France: good for Roy Hodgson, bad for llamas

Joleon Lescott scores for England at Euro 2012

England get off to a solid start at Euro 2012, but there's still plenty to work on

LAST UPDATED AT 20:22 ON Mon 11 Jun 2012

ENGLAND made a solid start to their Euro 2012 campaign with a creditable 1-1 draw with France.

Expectations have been so low that the result was hailed as something of a triumph in some quarters, but there was plenty of evidence that England's old failings remained, despite the presence of youngsters like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck in the starting line-up.

Roy Hodgson's men took the lead after half-an-hour when Joleon Lescott headed home Steven Gerrard's fine free kick. But they could only hold onto their advantage for nine minutes before Samir Nasri levelled things with a crisp strike from the edge of the box.

"England never 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," said The Times.

"Good point, average creativity," was the verdict in The Daily Telegraph, which bemoaned the fact that England gave the ball away too much and defended "so deep they were almost in the Crimea".

There was the promise of more to come, but the side will have to work on a few things. "If England are to make a lasting impression on Euro 2012 they are going to have to learn to take better care of the ball and develop a more incisive passing style," warned The Guardian.

More passing of any kind would help. Many commentators noted that by the end of the game France had made 634 passes to England's meagre tally of 307.

However, The Sun spared Hodgson from criticism and declared itself satisfied. "Three Lions skipper Gerrard said before the game he would take a point - so this was very much a case of job done," said the tabloid.

But the result was a blow for some. "England's draw against France spelt bad news for Nicholas the psychic llama who predicted that Roy Hodgson's men would triumph in their opening Euro 2012 match," reported MSN. · 

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