ENGLAND fans celebrated a first half lead but it was short-lived after France drew level to make it 1-1 tonight in Donetsk, Ukraine, writes Graham Walker.
Joleon Lescott headed England in front from a pinpoint Steven Gerrard free-kick after 30 minutes.
But six minutes before the break France were back in the game thanks to Sami Nasri, who beat his Manchester City team-mate Joe Hart with a low near post drive from 20 yards out
He was teed up by the threatening Franck Ribery.
England earlier seemed reluctant to keep the ball for long periods and attempted to try something over elaborate.
Mathieu Debuchy got forward down the right flank but Hart was alert to his low cross.
Then Lescott put England in front with his first goal for his country.
Milner was brought down by Patrice Evra and Gerrard whipped in a dangerous cross from the right flank.
Lescott timed his run perfectly to stay onside and he escaped his marker Alou Diarra to head past Lloris.
Oxlade-Chamberlain became the first player to be booked after 34 minutes for a late touchline challenge on Debuchy.
The resulting free-kick from Nasri picked out Diarra and his header forced a fine reflex save from Hart.
Ribery was first to react to the loose ball and turned it back across goal but Diarra’s follow-up header was wide of the target.
France were not to be denied and after 39 minutes Nasri brought them back on level terms.
The impressive Ribery teed up Nasri whose low shot beat Hart inside his right-hand post.
Milner was guilty of a slack back pass at the start of the second half but Nasri just failed to make contact and Hart was able to clear with his feet.
Gerrard almost got free in the France box after a one-two with Welbeck but the impressive Debuchy read the situation and stopped the England skipper with a firm challenge.
Gerrard then made an important intervention at the other end of the pitch to deal with a low Evra centre
The pace of the game appeared to have dropped, which was no surprise given the heat.
Ribery went down after being caught by Milner on the ankle but was able to shake off the challenge.
There was little action at either end although Hart got his body behind a shot on the turn from Karim Benzema after good play by Evra and Nasri, and Parker threw himself in typical fashion at full stretch to block a powerful attempt from Malouda.
NEXT MATCH: England’s next game is against Sweden on Friday, June 15, kick off 7.45pm.
See The Star tomorrow for report and pictures.