Euro 2016: England come from behind to beat Wales 2-1 with late winner from Daniel Sturridge
England beat Wales 2-1 in a tense encounter in their UEFA Euro 2016 Group B match at Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens on Thursday. Gareth Bale gave Wales the lead from a 35-yeard free-kick before half-time substitute Jamie Vardy brought England back into the game 12 minutes after coming on. But Daniel Sturridge scored the winner in stoppage time to top the group after two games.
England: Hart; Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose; Dier, Rooney; Lallana, Alli, Sterling; Kane
Wales: Hennessey; Gunter, Chester, Williams, Taylor, Davies; Ledley, Ramsey, Allen; Robson-Kanu, Bale
Roy Hodgson started with the same side that drew 1-1 with Russia and he opted for a 4-3-3 formation with Wayne Rooney dropping into a deep midfield role alongside Eric Dier and Dele Alli. Harry Kane led the line with Raheem Sterlin and Adam Lallana on either wing.
On the other hand, Chris Coleman went with a 3-5-2 formation as Gareth Bale and Hal Robson-Kanu were deployed in attack. Robson-Kanu had come on as a substitute to win the game for Wales against Slovakia and was rewarded with a start in the crunch game. Joe Ledley, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen started in midfield.
England dominate first half but Wales take the lead
The British derby lived up to its fiery expectations as the first few minutes produced a few moments that brought forth both international and club rivalries. Ramsey and Alli had a scuffle on the touchline after the young Tottenham midfielder barged into the Arsenal man and Ramsey was up on his feet to push him away and square up with his north London rival before the referee intervened.
The first real chance of the game fell to England when a lightning-quick counter-attack saw Lallana charge down the right flank before putting in a cross to Sterling. The Manchester City winger only had to stick his foot out and direct it home but skewed his effort wide and over the bar, much to the delight of the Welsh contingent behind the goal.
It also seemed like Hodgson had heard all about the criticism levelled at him for asking Kane to take corner kicks and Three Lions’ skipper Rooney was the one in charge of set pieces. While Kane did attempt a free-kick that was skied over the bar, Rooney did create a chance from another free-kick which Gary Cahill tried to head home with his back to goal but Hennessey had it covered.
England had a good shout for a penalty turned down just after the half-hour mark when Ben Davies was guilty of a potential handball. Sterling’s cross into the box saw both Kane and Davies going up for it when the Spurs striker’s misdirected header hit Davies on the hand. While the men in white went up at once in protest, the referee did not award a penalty and instructed the players to play on.
Wales were well and truly playing only defence at this point with Bale unable to do much without the ball as England advanced further into the Welsh half. Any chance of a Welsh counter-attack was quickly snuffed out before they were allowed to start a move as the Three Lions won it back, kept possession and spread the ball between the two flanks.
However, just before half-time, Wales got their break when Rooney conceded a free-kick 35 yards out when he fouled Robson-Kanu while trying to win possession. Gareth Bale stepped up and sent in a vicious shot that curled and dipped to the right. Joe Hart made a mess of the dive to his left and the ball struck his glove before going in to give Wales the lead.
Hodgson’s second-half changes win it for England
With England now chasing the game, Hodgson took the decision to hook off both Kane and Sterling to introduce Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy. The substitutions worked at the first time of asking as their movement and hunger for the ball caused the Welsh defenders some problems early on.
Rooney then forced a corner kick with a long-range effort that was parried away by Hennessey and the set piece eventually gave England an equaliser. Following a melee in the box, Sturridge's cross fell to Jamie Vardy inside the six-yard box.
The Leicester City striker simply turned on the spot and fired home. Although the 29-year-old was in an offside position, the ball came off the head of Ashley Williams and the linesman kept his flag down despite Wales’ protests as Vardy celebrated by sprinting to the bench.
The game soon got a lot more physical with Ben Davies becoming the first man to go into the referee’s book for a foul on Lallana. The Spurs defender caught Lallana on the ankle and the yellow card promptly came out. Sturridge then clattered into Joe Ledley, who had only just recovered from a broken leg in time for the Euros.
Hodgson then made his final substitution and brought on Marcus Rashford to replace Lallana. In doing so, the Manchester United forward broke the record for the youngest player to play for England – beating his captain’s record that stood for 12 years. Jonny Williams also came on for Robson-Kanu as Coleman tried to add an extra body in the centre to win the midfield battle, even getting a shot off that sailed just over the bar.
A draw would have suited Wales who had already won the first game but it was a must-win game for England and they struggled to break down a resolute Welsh defence. However, their resistance was broken in stoppage time when Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy and Dele Alli combined to score the winner.
The Liverpool man started the move outside the box, fed Vardy whose first touch saw the ball move to Alli. The Spurs man stumbled in the box but managed to lay it off for Sturridge who beat Hennessey at the near post to give England the win and the three points.