England battled to a 1-1 draw with group favorites France today while Andrei Shevchenko rolled back the years as his second-half double inspired the Euro 2012 co-hosts to a come from behind 2-1 win over Sweden.
England, playing their first competitive match under new manager Roy Hodgson, set up in their expected defensive formation, looking to hit the French on the counter attack.
And the tactic almost worked in the 15th minute when Ashley Young sent James Milner free in on goal. But after rounding Hugo Lloris, Milner had pushed himself too wide and his off balance shot went wide of the post. A big let off for the French.
But the French were not so fortunate on the half hour mark when Joleon Lescott escaped his marker Alou Diarra far too easy and headed home Steven Gerrard free kick.
The England goal seemed to spur on the French and with England defending deeper and deeper and Nasri and Ribery controlling the game it was only a matter of time before France equalized.
At it was Narsi who got the goal with a moment of class right before half-time. The England defense gave him much to much room on the edge of the box and he fired a terrific low shot past Joe Hart.
The half time break came at the wrong time for the French as they never looked quite as threatening after the break as heat took its toll on both sides.
Overall England were much the happier of the two teams when the final whistle and I wonder of Lauremnt Blanc will regret not going for the win against England?
In the second game, the Swedes let a one-goal leas disappear as Ukraine, spurred on by the home support came back for an impressive 2-1 victory.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic put Sweden ahead in the 52nd minute when Ukraine failed to clear their lines and Kim Kallstrom managed to lose his marker, collect Sebastian Larsson’s cross and pass inside to Ibrahimovic, who coolly slotted it into the net.
The Swedish lead last just three minutes as Yarmolenko delivered a superb cross into the area and Shevchenko, like days of old got ahead of his marker Olof Mellberg to head powerfully into the net.
Seven minutes later Sheva made it 2-1 when from an Oleg Gusev corner he nipped in ahead of Ibrahimovic, this time to head in at the near post.
Two terrific goals by Sheva, who turned back the clock, at least for one night. Huge win for Ukraine, who now top the group and know that a win against France next week will send them into the knockout stages. As for Sweden, the dark horse in the group this was a terrible defeat. The Swedes played well, but two defensive errors cost them. Sweden play England next, knowing that they probably need a win if they are to have any chance of advancing in the tournament.