England 2 – 1 Wales

Lineups:

England – Hart; Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose; Dier, Alli, Rooney; Lallana (Rashford 73 min), Kane (Vardy 45 min), Sterling (Sturridge 45 min)

Wales – Hennessey; Chester, Williams, Davies; Gunter, Ledley (Edwards 67 min), Allen, Taylor; Ramsey, Bale; Robson-Kanu (Williams 72)

Daniel Sturridge’s last minute winner gave England a vital victory to send them top of Group B. They came back from being 1-0 down after Gareth Bale’s first half opener for Wales.

 

The first half saw England dominate possession, without being able to threaten Wales’ goalkeeper, Wayne Hennessey as much as they would like.

Their best chance in the first half came from Raheem Sterling after just six minutes. It was a great counter attack by England, which saw Adam Lallana be set free by Harry Kane. His pass found Sterling, who’s shot from close range disappointingly missed the target.

As we witnessed last Saturday against Russia, it is important that you are ruthless in front of goal and take your chances at this level.

Wales won a free kick from 35 yards out, which was taken by Gareth Bale. It was a brilliant strike from long range, but it is a free kick which Joe Hart would have been dispirited to have not saved.

 

This left Wales with a 1-0 lead at half time. England were the better side up to this point, but a failure to make the most of their wealth of possession, whilst being too lacklustre on the ball, meant that there was a lack of clear cut opportunities for Roy Hodgson’s men during the first period of the game.

It was clear that changes needed to be made and Hodgson attempted to improve his sides fortunes by replacing Kane and Sterling by Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy at half time.

This positive move by Hodgson seemed to pay dividends straight away as it was a quick start to the 2nd half for England, with an increased tempo, whilst spreading play at a much faster pace.

This was rewarded when England equalised after 55 minutes. A probing move by England saw the ball find Sturridge out wide. He then sent in a testing ball which after a deflection from Wales’ Ashley Williams, fell nicely for Leicester’s Jamie Vardy, who unsurprisingly made no mistake from close range.

 

Wales were forced to desperately defend their own goal for much of the 2nd half, after continuous England attacks.

On the 73rd minute, Hodgson made another change to bring on youngster Marcus Rashford to replace Adam Lallana. This appearance makes him the youngest English player to ever feature at a European Championship tournament, beating Wayne Rooney’s record by just four days.

He impressed on his international tournament debut. He played with no fear, like he has done in each of his first time appearances this season since moving up from the youth ranks.

 

England continued to pile on the pressure without managing to score that vital second goal, meaning that it seemed like they would have to settle for a draw as the game headed into added time.

But after 91 minutes, Sturridge found the ball on the edge of the box. He laid the ball off to Vardy, who then found Alli before the Tottenham man let in Sturridge, who fired the ball into the bottom corner to send all English onlookers into euphoria.

 

This victory for England moves them to top of the group on four points, above both Wales and Slovakia, who are stuck on three points after the second round of fixtures.

This means that England only need a point to secure their place in the first knockout round of Euro 2016 and a win would guarantee that they win the group.

Roy Hodgson gave his thoughts on his sides vital win at full-time:

We were doing OK but there were other aspects of our game which we could bring to the game. In the second half it was much more aggressive in terms of our attacking play. We were in a hair’s breath so many times but it took until the 92nd minute.

Wales manager, Chris Coleman, also gave his post match reaction:

A point for us would have fantastic. Congrats to Roy – he made some good substitutions and we knew they would push us back. The guys showed great heart. They stuck into the game and, with 60 seconds remaining, to give up that point we worked so hard for, we are gutted.

England were by far the better side overall and came out deserving winners in the end. Roy Hodgson does deserve a lot of credit for his substitutions, they all made a positive impact for his side.

This win should give England a lot of momentum going into their next game against Slovakia on Monday night and into the rest of the tournament.

Man of the Match – Wayne Rooney

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