England played out a goalless draw against Slovakia in their final group game at the Euros last night.
Roy Hodgson’s selection gamble backfired and set his team on course for a potential Euro 2016 quarter-final meeting with France after Slovakia refused to buckle in Saint Etienne.
Six changes to his starting line-up was a bold move by the England manager, but it failed to pay off.England dominated this game, but their failure to win ensures they progress to the knock-out stage as runners-up in Group B.A clash with the Group F runners-up in Nice now lies ahead next Monday, but win that, and it will most likely be the hosts at the Stade de France in the quarter-finals. And then the Germans in the semi-finals.
But Hodgson’s decision to shuffle his pack will have sent a message to Slovakia that England were not taking this game as seriously as they perhaps should, considering the ramifications of finishing first, second or third.England started well, however, with Jamie Vardy flashing a left foot volley from Clyne’s cross across the face of the Slovakia goal inside the opening five minutes.
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The effort was there, but the quality – the crucial element at this level – continued to prove elusive.Still, Slovakia were a huge disappointment, with Marek Hamsik and Vladimir Weiss both offering little to no threat for Jan Kozak’s team.
Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Taylor were all on target as Wales brushed aside Russia to go top of the group.Wales rampaged into an 11th minute lead with an absolute peach of a goal, Allen threading through the eye of a needle to Ramsey who carried the ball forward and beautifully chipped over the advancing Igor Akinfeev.Within nine minutes, it was 2-0… and this time from the most unlikely of Welsh sources. With stunning speed, Ramsey and Bale turned defence into offence to set up the rampaging Taylor inside the Russian box.
Could it possibly get any better than this? You bet. Wales continued their domination in the second half and duly made it 3-0 in the 67th minute after Ramsey took out four Russian defenders with a deft pass with the outside of his foot.The ball left Bale in a similar position to Taylor, clear inside the Russian penalty box and with oceans of time and space. He made no mistake, calmly sliding the ball beyond Akinfeev who must have wondered what on earth had happened to his defence.