Euro 2012: Samir Nasri’s goal celebration sparks controversy

By IndepthAfrica
In Soccer
Jun 12th, 2012

France coach Laurent Blanc said he did not know who Samir Nasri was targeting when he screamed “Shut your face” after scoring the equaliser in last night’s 1-1 draw with England.

The Manchester City midfielder struck in the 39th minute at Donetsk’s Donbass Arena to cancel out Joleon Lescott’s opening goal and earn his side a point in their Euro 2012 Group D opener.

Booed throughout by England fans behind the goal that France attacked, Nasri reacted explosively to scoring, putting his finger to his lips and shouting towards the England dug-out.

Speculation over who he was aiming his vitriol at quickly began to spread on Twitter – with potential candidates said to include the media and members of the England coaching staff.

But Blanc said: “It’s between him and his critics. It’s a personal thing, I don’t want to get involved.”

Nasri, afterwards, regretted his outburst, but reportedly said it was because of media criticism. While he declined to elaborate, he shared his views on his crucial goal. “When Franck Ribery gave me the ball, the England defence was really low [sitting back],” said Nasri. “I decided to take a shot, but Joe Hart knows me from Manchester City and knows that in that situation, I normally open my foot. This time I closed it a little bit so I am happy with how it worked out.”

And Nasri has high hopes for France in the tournament after the debacle of 2010 when they flopped at the World Cup finals. “We are making a lot of progress,” he said. “We have come from nothing in 2010, when we made a lot of mistakes. Today we are more mature. We can do something with this group.”

Team-mate Patrice Evra felt England made it difficult for the French after opening the scoring through Lescott’s first international goal. “I think they played the way Chelsea did against Barcelona,” he said. “People laugh. Maybe they want England to play more football but, in the end, if they win the tournament playing like that, they will be happy.”

And England were happy with a point they felt they deserved. Coach Roy Hodgson has yet to lose in his three games in charge and he said: “I am satisfied with those three games, but you don’t become a really good team in three matches and 10 training sessions.

“The French have gone 22 games unbeaten. They’ve not done that overnight. The longer we play together, the better we’ll become too.” As England face Sweden next on Friday, the French take on co-hosts Ukraine, who will be buoyant after they beat the Swedes 2-1.

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