Joleon Lescott receives heatry congratulations from his England colleaguesPICTURE: GETTY IMAGES
England clipped for Euro glory after Donetsk draw
ENGLAND made a satisfactory start to their Euro 2012 campaign with a 1-1 draw against France in Donetsk on Monday and they have been cut by a number of firms to win the European Championship.
Roy Hodgson’s side had been a standout 15-1 with Betfred before the tournament began but that is a now a joint-best 12-1, while all the firms who had been 14-1 also clipped the Three Lions.
Joleon Lescott opened the scoring for England with a header from a Steven Gerrard free kick but France deservedly levelled later in the first half when Samir Nasri’s shot caught out Joe Hart and the second period was a non-event.
However, in theory England have now got their hardest Group D contest out of the way and can look forward with optimism to Friday’s clash with Sweden.
It was a fair result for both sides and France have also been cut to win the Euros with Les Bleus, unbeaten since 2010, now 8-1 to go all the way in a competition that could be won by any number of evenly-matched sides.
Hodgson is 7-4 with Hills to select the same 11 men on Friday and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be hoping to keep his spot on the left wing having been a shock inclusion in the side.
The Arsenal youngster did not let his country down and is 4-7 with bet365 to stay in the starting 11 and 5-4 to be dropped against the Swedes.
Despite not scoring, Danny Welbeck did well enough to suggest he will keep Andy Carroll and Jermain Defoe out of the team.
Hills clearly believe so and rate the Manchester United forward
1-3 to be in the 11 on Friday, although Welbeck is 6-5 to get the nod in the final group game against Ukraine when Wayne Rooney will be suspension-free.
Welbeck is 6-1 to end the tournament as England's top scorer with Lescott bet365's 4-1 favourite and Rooney is 13-2 to make up for lost time as he sits on the sidelines for one more match.
Maybe had Rooney been available then England would have offered more in the attacking third and bookmakers were left toasting the draw, which as usual was left relatively untouched by punters.
Hills, who had been 5-2 England, reported just 14 per cent of all bets were on the draw and BetVictor's Nick Blezard said: "It was a great result. We had France for fortunes and I think it is only the second time in my time at the company we were left cheering on England."
However, Coral reported giving back £150,000 on various markets after their cashback of a headed first goal was activated but overall it was a result which went against the majority of punters.
Hills were unimpressed with Italian arbiter Nicola Rizzoli and shoved him out to 16-1 from 7-1 to officiate the final with Viktor Kassai the 5-2 favourite.
Ukraine took a grip on Group D and are 8-11 to qualify with Boylesports after a 2-1 win over Sweden. Andrei Shevchenko scored both goals.