Euro 2016 Group B roundup: Wales finish top after defeating Russia, England settle for second
Bale and Ramsey the heroes for the Welsh as they pipped their bitter rivals
England held to frustrating 0-0 draw by Slovakia
Roy Hodgson as he promised did not start Wayne Rooney. He also replaced both Tottenham full-backs Walker and Rose with Liverpool’s Clyne and Southampton’s Bertrand. Henderson, Wilshere, Sturridge and Vardy all started as Hodgson made 6 changes.
Jamie Vardy’s pace caused problems early in the game and the Leicester man had the first clear chance. Henderson looped a ball from outside his boot setting Vardy on the chase. Skrtel had a 3-yard head start but Vardy still got there first and toe-poked it straight at the keeper.
It was all England in the first half and their right-hand side caused some real problems for the Slovakians in defence. Clyne who had already made several runs behind their back line, broke through once again, latching on to Henderson’s side roll pass and cutting it back for Lallana who’s first time effort stung the palms of Kozacik.
Slovakia had the first real chance of the second half. Chris Smalling in a moment of complacency attempted to chest the ball back to Hart but there was not enough power and Duda anticipated and swung a boot at it but the contact was minimal and England got off the hook.
Hodgson rang in the changes with Rooney, Kane and Alli all coming on. England were hoping their captain could prove to be the difference, like he had done som many times in the past for Manchester United.
But in the end, the English had to settle for second place, as Slovakia accomplished what they set out to do and finished 3rd in the group.
Historic night for Wales as they down Russia 3-0
Wales stormed into the knockout stages after a win over Russia, with Gareth Bale starring for the Welsh Dragons. Aaron Ramsey opened the scoring in the 11th minute in fantastic fashion, getting on the end of a gorgeous through ball by Joe Allen as Wales countered, leaving the Arsenal man to produce a stunning chip over Akinfeev and give Wales the lead.
The Welsh fans were sent into further delirium 20 minutes in, as Neil Taylor of all people scored Wales’ second goal of the game. The Swansea defender charged up the pitch with Bale squeezing the ball out to him on the left as three defenders converged on him.
Taylor was left with a one-on-one with Akinfeev and saw his first effort saved, but slammed the ball home from the rebound, giving Wales a 2-0 lead going into the break. Wales continued to pile on the pressure in the second half, with Bale, Ramsey and Allen all tormenting the Russian backline.
The Real Madrid star ultimately got his just rewards of the night when Aaron Ramsey toe-poked a through ball into his charge upfield on the left, allowing Bale to curl home with the outside of his left foot and make the 2016 UEFA top-scorer the first man to score in all group games since 2004.
The result means that Wales qualify for the knockout stages in 1st place of Group B, topping the group with 6 points.
Final Group B standings
**Note: Best 4 of 3rd placed teams qualify for the next round