The former Manchester City defender has been a class above QPR’s Rio this term
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Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is expected to face FA action for criticising the officials in the wake of the 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on Boxing Day.
Unsettled Manchester City centre-half Joleon Lescott is wanted by both Aston Villa and Liverpool.
GOAL – TEAM NEWS: Tevez & Nasri on the bench for Manchester City against Liverpool as Sturridge partners Suarez
Roberto Mancini makes two changes to the side who drew with Queens Park Rangers whilst the only change for Liverpool is Jose Enrique who replaces the youngster Andre Wisdom
After England kicked-off their Euro 2012 campaign with a battling 1-1 draw against much-fancied France, Metro analyzes who were the hits, and who were the misses in Roy Hodgson’s first competitive line-up. Star man: Steven Gerrard (Picture: Getty Images) JOE HART 7/10At fault for Nasri’s goal but showed his best with a couple of saves from the top drawer.GLEN JOHNSON 6Broke forward well and looked the part until it came to the final delivery.JOHN TERRY 8Former skipper was always in the right place at the right time, a rock at the back.JOLEON LESCOTT 8First goal for England was the icing on a composed performance at the heart of defence.ASHLEY COLE 8Always goes about his work with the minimum of fuss but the maximum effect.JAMES MILNER 6Should have scored early on but worked hard and added bite to the England midfield.STEVEN GERRARD 9At the centre of everything positive from England. The Three Lions captain led by example throughout, setting up Lescott for England’s goal with a glorious cross and mucking in at the back when Les Bleus looked dangerous.SCOTT PARKER 7Covered a lot of ground to protect the back four and made important blocks on the edge of the area.ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN 7Nice touches and decent turn of pace but England couldn’t get him in the game enough to make the most of his talents.ASHLEY YOUNG 6Found it difficult to stamp his authority as England defended in numbers but put in a decent shift.DANNY WELBECK 7Wasn’t supplied with a decent chance but still caught the eye with his enthusiastic work-rate. Substitutes: Jermain Defoe 5Jordan Henderson 5 PICTURES: England 1-1 France
STEVEN GERRARD challenged England to build on their 1-1 draw with France after a promising start to their Euro 2012 campaign.
Joe Hart declared England a team to be proud of as Roy Hodgson’s men got their Euro 2012 campaign up and running in a 1-1 draw with France. Les’ is more: From left, James Milner, goalscorer Joleon Lescott, Ashley Young and Steven Gerrard celebrate after England take the lead (Picture: Reuters) Joleon Lescott gave the Three Lions an early lead and, although Samir Nasri fired France level before the break, England withstood a tough second half to silence doubts about their chances of gelling just weeks after Hodgson’s appointment. ‘You can question the team all you want but you’ll always get belief, pride and quality,’ said Hart. ‘People forget we’re England and we’re a good side. In that first 25 minutes, they weren’t ready for us.’ Hodgson was also content but knows Group D rivals Sweden and Ukraine pose a threat to their hopes of reaching the last eight. ‘To finish 1-1 and ask the questions of them that we did, I have got to be happy,’ said the England boss. ‘There weren’t that many situations where I was panicking in any way. ‘We can’t deny on paper that they [France] might be the hardest game but I have got a lot of respect for Sweden and Ukraine.’ PICTURES: England 1-1 France
England’s Euro 2012 campaign got off to a solid if unspectacular start with a 1-1 draw with France in Donetsk. England and France’s goalscorers Joleon Lescott and Samir Nasri (Picture: Reuters) Roy Hodgson’s team opened the scoring midway through the first half through a Joleon Lescott header, with Laurent Blanc’s France equalising ten minutes later after Samir Nasri’s accurate drive beat his Manchester City team-mate Joe Hart at his near post.Despite rarely threatening the France defence, Hodgson – who gave a competitive debut to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – will have been pleased with the way in which his team kept their tactical discipline and contained their opponents.Playing with a 4-4-1-1 formation in the Donbass Arena with Danny Welbeck ahead of Ashley Young in attack, a youthful England starting XI with an average age of 24 looked pacy on the break but did not give their forwards enough support from midfield. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain evades the attention of Yohan Cabaye (Picture: AFP/Getty) Despite a bright England start France created the game’s first chances with Nasri shooting wide after an intricate build-up.The game’s clearest opening fell to England however when James Milner was put through by Young in the 15th minute.The Manchester City midfielder was able to knock the ball past French captain Hugo Lloris but could not find the net with his weaker left foot. Roy Hodgson will have been satisfied with tonight’s performance (Picture: EPA) England did not have long to rue Milner’s profligacy when Lescott scored his first international goal.The defender, only in the team due to an injury to Gary Cahill, evaded France midfielder Alou Diarra to head home at the far post after an accurate right-wing free-kick from Three Lions captain Steven Gerrard.Lescott’s goal meant England have scored first in the opening game of their last eight major tournaments, although they kept up their record of never winning their first game at a European Championship. Joleon Lescott scores his first goal for England (Picture: AFP/Getty) Moments after the opener Diarra almost made amends by stinging Hart’s palms with a towering header following a Nasri free-kick from a similar position from which Gerrard swung in for Lescott to score.Nasri, by far France’s best player in the first half, took matters into his own hands when equalised with one of the best goals of the tournament so far.From the edge of the box the 24-year-old drove a powerful shot that skimmed across the turf into the right-hand side of Hart’s goal to ensure the teams went in level at half-time. Samir Nasri wheels away in celebration after his equaliser (Picture: EPA) After the restart England continued as they had started, compact and tidy in possession but with no real penetration up front.Amid sweltering conditions in Donetsk, Hodgson’s team appeared to get frustrated as a series of 50-50 refereeing decisions from Italian official Nicola Rizzoli went against them.Nasri and Karim Benzema looked most likely to make something happen for France, and midway through the second half the Real Madrid man tested Hart with a long-range drive, but the England keeper never looked under pressure. England captain Steven Gerrard talks to France’s Patrice Evra during the game (Picture: PA) The same could be said of France keeper and captain Lloris, who, apart from Lescott’s header, had no saves of note to make.Both teams continued to toil in the heat, with Newcastle United midfielder Yohan Cabaye seeing a powerful drive deflected wide by Welbeck.England brought on Jermain Defoe, Jordan Henderson and Theo Walcott late on in the second half but could not find the right combination to unlock the France defence.A draw against the team regarded as England’s main group D rivals is a credible result, however, with the Three Lions now having reason to feel optimistic ahead of their next game against Sweden in Kiev on Friday. PICTURES: England v France
England captain Steven Gerrard was satisfied after his side launched their Euro 2012 campaign with an encouraging 1-1 draw with France in Donetsk.