France’s players admitted frustration after failing to turn their dominance into victory against England in their Euro 2012 opener but took heart from their reaction to falling behind.
Laurent Blanc’s side enjoyed 60% of possession and registered 15 shots on target to England’s one but had to settle for only a point after Samir Nasri cancelled out Joleon Lescott’s opener.
“We’re not really satisfied, it’s a bit frustrating,” said midfielder Florent Malouda, the most experienced player in France’s squad with 78 caps. “We wanted to win to start the competition well but looking at the start, it’s a good result. We reacted well to England’s goal. We had the possession but it wasn’t enough.”
France’s next assignment sees them tackle Ukraine on Friday.
Gerrard salutes ‘unbreakable’ England
Meanwhile, England captain Steven Gerrard hailed his side’s ‘unbreakable’ defence after managing to frustrate France.
“I thought we defended really well and were resolute,” he said. “When we turned over possession, we looked really dangerous so I’m satisfied. Considering we haven’t been together so long, I think the lads have taken the tactics on board really quickly. We’re happy with the point but it only becomes a good point if we go and build on it now and try and we’ll try to take the three points against Sweden.”
Shevchenko revels in ‘historic game’
Meanwhile, Andrei Shevchenko rolled back the years as he leapt like a man a decade younger than his 35 years to head two superb goals to cancel out Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s opener for the fancied Swedes against Ukraine.
“I feel great, it was an historic game for us, it’s a victory,” grinned Shevchenko, who made his debut back in 1995. “I feel like 20, not 35. If I can choose my dreams I want to dream of a day like that, it’s a fantastic day. I want to thank everyone who worked with me the last year-and-a-half – I had so many knee and back problems. Now I am fit thanks to them.”
Onwards and upwards, says dejected Hamren
Swedish coach Erik Hamren said he and his players would spend a day brooding after the 2-1 defeat.
However, the 54-year-old – who has been in the post since 2009 – added that from dawn on Wednesday they would have to lift themselves and focus on their next match against England on Friday.
“It was not the happiest bus ride of my life,” admitted the Swede, who at club level has been twice a Norwegian title winner and once in Denmark. “When you lose, and when you are not happy with your performance, it is never a happy time. No-one talks, it is very quiet. The players are capable of doing their own navel-gazing. They are winners, they don’t like to lose.”
Published In The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2012.
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