France coach Laurent Blanc admitted to “mixed feelings” at the end of his side’s 1-1 draw with England in their opening Group D encounter in Donetsk. “We’re disappointed not to have won it but glad not to have lost,” he said, before praising Samir Nasri for his equaliser. Opposite number Roy Hodgson expressed satisfaction with a hard-fought point, hoping the game will give his charges “a good platform” to go on at UEFA EURO 2012.
Laurent Blanc, France coach
We have mixed feelings, but I think the English feel the same. England had a very good 20 minutes, but paradoxically we got back in the match after we conceded. They caused us problems, but we got a deserved equaliser and in the second half we could have scored a second, even if there weren’t too many chances.
Overall, I think the draw was fair for both teams. The fact that it was hot on the pitch didn’t favour the side that attacked most, and France attacked most. We’re disappointed not to have won it but glad not to have lost. And we didn’t deserve to lose.
I thought we were timid at the start and I don’t know why. England didn’t dominate but they had chances. We don’t want to repeat that experience of starting slowly but maybe it was something we needed to get over. I hope we’ll be ready from the first minute in the next game.
We’ve always supported Samir. Coaches always want their talented players to live up to their potential, but you have to be patient with some players more than others. Nasri needed that and he rewarded us tonight. We have an attacking potential and we’ve progressed in that area. The other good news is that we defended well and didn’t pick up any cards.
Roy Hodgson, England manager
I’m obviously pleased, for the players most of all. The conditions were difficult for both teams and I thought both teams showed incredible spirit to keep going. I thought we started both halves well, but we suffered a period of pressure before the end of the half as France finished well and unfortunately we conceded. I’m glad to get this game out of the way and I’m now looking forward to the rest of this competition.
The French, as we know and as most people who watch them know, flood the midfield. They try to drag your defenders out of position. It was very important that our midfielders stuck to their task. The two central ones did very well, and the wide ones deserve to be mentioned as well.
I think [Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain] deserved his place. He’s got that ability when he gets in those positions to turn people around. I thought he did quite well, I thought he was quite dangerous. I told him: ‘Don’t get hung up on this performance and remember there’ll be lots more games to come in an England shirt.’
Excuse me if I’m a little circumspect, but I’ve had three games. You don’t become a good team in three games and ten training sessions. The French have now gone 22 games unbeaten, if I’m not mistaken. Hopefully we’ll just get better when we get players back from injury and Wayne Rooney back.