England managed to stave off the French offence in their opening game in the Euro 2012 tournament, securing a point to give them a steady start to what is looking likely to be a difficult group round.
The luck of the English looked prominent once more when early in the game James Milner couldn't take advantage of an open goal, hitting the ball wide of the post before burying his head in the grass with frustration. His blunder was soon forgotten, however, when Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott connected with a perfect Steven Gerrard free kick in the box, heading the ball into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead in the 30th minute.
However, Samir Nasri silenced the English after he pelted the ball past Joe Hart from just outside of the box – one of many efforts he had made against the resilient goalkeeper – to level the score at 1-1.
The match continued at a steady pace with neither team able to thwart the opposing defence; Welbeck found himself increasingly surrounded by blue shirts, while Benzema was forced to continue lashing hopeful shots at Hart in the hopes that the keeper would fumble. Fortunately for England Hart kept a cool head with some impressive saves, a level of performance which he will hopefully carry into the remaining group games.
Elsewhere Oxlade-Chamberlain showed glimmers of the sprightliness which led to coach Roy Hodgson choosing the 18-year-old for his starting line-up, making an impressive run through the French defence before laying the ball across to Ashley Young, who was unfortunately offside.
Speaking after the match of Hodgson's surprise selection of him over the likes of Arsenal's Theo Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain said: "I think I did okay. I think it was a bit frustrating at times for me to get [into] space and do what I like to do and run at people and find space out wide.
"Against a good French side we’ll take a draw, we’ll move on and we’ll get something from there."
The opening performance of Hodgson's new England squad was industrious, if not impressive. The abscence of an intimidating striking force such as Wayne Rooney was clearly missed, but a sturdy defensive display throughout the group rounds should be enough.
However, whether we should settle for "enough" is another matter.