England and France played one half of very high-quality and entertaining football, but didn't really feel like duplicating the feat in the second half. With the assistance of referee Nicola Rizzoli, the two teams played a very sloppy second half with a fair bit of fouling and diving, and the match ended 1-1.
Both goals came in the first half, and both were impressive. England netted the opener in the 30th minute on a set piece, with Steven Gerrard providing a beautiful delivery for Joleon Lescott. The Manchester City defender rose up above Alou Diarra and powered the ball into the net, giving the Three Lions a surprise lead against the run of play.
His City teammate Samir Nasri hit the equalizer in the 39th minute. Franck Ribery set him up with a quality touch on the edge of the penalty area, virtually putting the ball on a tee for Nasri to rip into. The ball looked like it had a mind of its own as it found its way through traffic, giving a badly screened Joe Hart no chance to come up with a save.
It's rare in football that the basic box score tells most of the story of a match, but this one is an exception. England had just five attempts on goal and one shot on target, indicating just how little they did going forward. France had 21 shots, but only hit the target seven times, correctly indicating that a lot of their efforts on goal were merely speculative.
One thing that the box score missed was the officiating, however. The match was a very physical one that was loaded with bookable offenses -- both fouls and dives -- but Rizzoli was extremely lenient. No France players were booked and a total of just 16 fouls were called. On the evidence of this match, Rizzoli's probably not a great candidate to officiate knockout stage matches. There's an argument made for letting the boys play, but in this case, his unwillingness to call fouls detracted from the match.
It appears that 1-1 draws are the result de jour in this edition of the European Championships. This is the third match of the tournament to end with that score.