Yohan Cabaye

By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter

 

Newcastle United pair Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa both tasted international tournament football for the first time, as France played out a 1-1 draw with England on Monday night.

The Euro 2012 Group D fixture saw Joleon Lescott head England in front on the half-hour mark, before Manchester City teammate Samir Nasri levelled things up before the break with a low 25-yard strike.

Cabaye was handed a start by Les Bleus manager Laurent Blanc in a three-man midfield, while forward Ben Arfa was among the substitutes at the Donbass Arena, in Donetsk.

England created the first real opportunity of the game through ex-Newcastle winger James Milner. Racing on to an Ashley Young through ball, Milner beat the offside trap and rounded France keeper Hugo Lloris, but could only skew his shot wide of the open net from a night angle.

Within a couple of minutes, Magpies star Cabaye showed just why he was such a hit on Tyneside in his maiden season, fashioning a chance out of nothing with a low, curled effort from distance which Joe Hart had to get down smartly to keep out.

Lescott and Nasri then exchanged goals before half-time, and Cabaye almost won it late on as his expert half-volley was heading for the far corner until the slightest of deflections off Danny Welbeck sent it inches wide for a corner.

With six minutes remaining, Cabaye then made way for Ben Arfa and the tricky forward showed flashes of his late season Premier League form which helped United to a fifth-placed finish, but was unable to conjur up a winner as the sides shared the points.

As well as Milner, another former Newcastle man was lining up for England - Scott Parker. The now Tottenham man played for 77 minutes in the heart of the midfield before being replaced by Jordan Henderson.

Next up for France is Ukraine, on Friday at 5pm, while England face Sweden at 7.45pm on the same day.

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