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BREAKING NEWS

Donetsk, Group D: France v England

Roy Hodgson fielded an experimental team for their opening game against one of the teams who are tipped to win the tournament and the inclusion of Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain gave the side much-needed vitality at the front.

And for the first half hour England looked good, opening the French defence at least twice with James Milner hitting the side netting after 14th minutes. When Joleon Lescott put them in front after 30 minutes, England looked on their way. However the euphoria lasted for eight minutes as Samir Nasri creeped one past Joe Hart and the French began their comeback ending the first half looking the more assured side.

The second half was largely a messy affair. The game needed something special to bring it alive and there were moments when the French with their firepower at the front looked menacing.

However, the game was largely one of stalemate, a well organised English team with few surprises managing to deaden a French team that on paper looked like a skilful smooth team of operators.

England will take heart. As for France, well they’ll have to improve vastly if they’re going to challenge Germany, Russia, Spain or Italy in the closing stages.