England claimed their first win of Euro 2016 yesterday with a dramatic last minute goal. With plenty of drama we take a look at the five things we learnt from yesterday afternoon’s match.
What a difference a few days makes; even a few minutes for a matter of fact.
Despite dominating large periods of the match, on 90 minutes it looked as if England were going to be left frustrated and third in Group B after a 1-1 draw with Wales.
However Daniel Strurridge had other ideas.
On the 92nd minute decent build up resulted in England and Sturridge poking home a winner to not only defeat rivals Wales but to also take England top of the group and on the cusp of the next round of Euro 2016.
Here’s five things that we learnt after that dramatic and crucial game:
England can trust the bench
A sign of a good manager is if he can learn from his mistakes.
In the last game Russia Roy Hodgson, though he may not admit it, made a few blunders regarding substitutes.
But yesterday he made the right changes at the right time.
Roy brought off the again disappointing Sterling and Kane to bring on Liverpool’s Dan Sturridge and fan favourite Jamie Vardy. Both of course got the crucial goals.
Roy also showed faith and daring by bring on Manchester United whiz-kid Marcus Rashford with 15 odds minutes to go and the youngster did not look out-of-place as the Three Lions pushed for the winner.
Some nations weaken their team when making subs but yesterday proved that is not the case for England, at least in an attacking sense.
More of the same as the tournament progresses Roy!
Harry Kane is burnt out
A related point my last one is that Spurs striker Harry Kane has not been himself in the past two games and that has opened the door to his forward rivals for a starting berth.
Harry Kane looks exhausted and ‘leggy’ but that can be no surprise having played 65 games in the past 12 months for club and country.
Compared to his forward rivals this is far and beyond the most.
Jamie Vardy was Leicester’s key man last season but did miss a few at the end of the season through suspension and then also missed an England warm up friendly to get married.
Daniel Sturridge has struggled for fitness but in the long that has played into his hands for the tournament as he now looks as fit and sharp as possible.
Even Marcus Rashford despite playing lots of games for Manchester United missed a few towards the end of the season and honestly only started playing week in week out from February.
If Roy is smart he will rest Kane, maybe not drop, but rest him for the later stage if we need him.
I would rather a fit Harry Kane for the quarter finals than a burnt out one struggling in the Last 16.
Gareth Bale is always a threat
If it wasn’t obvious already Gareth Bale is a threat no matter how is playing.
Bale was not at his best yesterday and that is credit to the England defensive unit for dulling that threat from opening play.
However Bale is a magician from free kick and despite Joe Hart feeling he should have done better in saving the free kick effort; you have to commend Bale for the talent it takes to score from thirty plus yards from a dead ball.
He did the same thing against Slovakia on Saturday and it only goes to show that no matter how quiet Bale is, he will have an effect on the game.
As long as Wales have Bale doing his thing, they will be a force to be reckoned with this tournament.
Ben Davies was a lucky man yesterday
Not once but twice Tottenham’s Ben Davies was accused of handling the ball in the area.
Both would have been harsh decisions if given but the young Welsh defender will count himself lucky that neither decision was given.
It would have been a hero to zero moment for Davies after he cleared off the line against Slovakia on Saturday; a clearance that built a platform for Wales to work upon and deservedly earn three valuable points.
He struggled generally with England and was booked for a hard midway through the half to boot.
He and Wales should fare better against a poor looking Russia who will need a lot of luck to get through the group from their position.
However, England are not the strongest and Wales did struggle at certain points yesterday; room to improve perhaps.
England DO have the passion
Much was said after England’s poor Russia result and how Wales worked tirelessly to get a victory against Slovakia that compared to the Welsh the English showed no passion.
Hopefully after yesterday that will all be put to bed.
During the build up, talisman Gareth Bale goaded the England camp for not showing the same passion and instead of getting into a slanging match the England camp fronted by Roy Hodgson and Wayne Rooney were very coy and hinted that they would show the passion on the pitch.
The first didn’t go to plan and it looked as if Bale and the Welsh camp were right; despite having a lion’s share of possession it looked as if the England squad were in second gear the whole time.
That was until the substitutions were made.
No words were needed after Sturridge’s winner yesterday.
Instead of settling for a point against a good team in Wales, the England lads kept banging at the door before finally breaching it.
The scenes on the touch-line with coach Gary Neville getting involved and the entire bench of playing staff swarming around the match winner proves to the fans that the players do care and wanted to prove that.
I’m sure many England fans think like me; we aren’t the best team but as long as the players give 100%, I can be content.
Now out of nowhere England are in control of the group where any positive result against Slovakia will get them through.
But of course, the Three Lions will be going for the win.