Who was Samir Nasri telling to shut up? Not me, says Hodgson
French midfielder causes a stir after telling someone to 'shut your gob' after scoring against England
WHO WAS Samir Nasri telling to shut up after he equalised for France against England last night? The Sun would have us believe that the Manchester City midfielder "taunted the England bench" as he celebrated his strike on 39 minutes that cancelled out Joleon Lescott's goal for the Three Lions.
According to the British tabloid, Nasri put a finger to his lips and yelled "ferme ta gueule" ['shut your gob'] "in the direction of England boss Roy Hodgson and assistant Gary Neville".
The Guardian, however, suggests that Nasri's words were "directed at the French media" after they had been critical of his recent performances for the national side.
Apparently Nasri, 24, who was named the Uefa man of the match in the dull draw against England, muttered "that was at you" at reporters during the post-game press conference at the Donbass Arena.
French sports daily L'Equipe confesses in its Tuesday's edition that they might have been the target of Nasri's anger for "being too nasty" about his pre-tournament form.
France coach Laurent Blanc pleaded ignorance about the gesture but refused to condemn Nasri's petulance, saying: "That's between him and his detractors. That is something personal... I think Samir was happy to score a goal and play a good game. You'd have to ask him who he was directing that to."
And England manager Roy Hodgson – hardly the most offensive man in the world – looked bemused when it was suggested Nasri had hurled a few choice words his way. "Did he? Not to me, he didn't," said Hodgson, adding: "You take me by surprise. I would say the opposite: the attitude of the two teams was very good throughout. There wasn't any aggravation on or off the field."
Despite the mystery, Nasri was happy to talk about the goal itself, particularly as it was his Manchester City teammate Joe Hart he beat with the strike. "When we go back to City I can tease him," said Nasri.
"When Franck Ribery gave me the ball... I decided to take a shot but Joe Hart knows me from Manchester City and knows that in that situation, I normally open my foot. This time I closed it a little bit so I am happy with how it worked out."
Nasri and his teammates now face the challenge of the Ukraine on Friday evening, a daunting prospect with the tournament's co-host on home soil and on a high following their 2-1 defeat of Sweden.
Though the Swedes opened the scoring through Zlatan Ibrahimovic on 52 minutes, former Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko struck twice for the Ukraine to give them three points and top spot in Pool D.
"This is fantastic!" exclaimed the 35-year-old Shevchenko afterwards. "Each game we approach like a final. Today it was the opening game at home. We won and showed outstanding football qualities. We will be preparing for the next game the same way."
England, meanwhile, face Sweden in Kiev on Friday with Hodgson saying the draw with France "gives us a good platform... there were good signs of a team wanting to do well."