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England vs Wales a few quick thoughts

  • What is it with England and last minute goals lately.
  • After the agony of Saturday it was the sheer ecstasy of Thursday afternoon.
  • The celebrations for England fans would have gone long into the night and there would certainly have been some sore heads this morning as Roy Hodgson’s side won the so called “Battle Of Britain”.
  • Substitutions once again played a key part in the game for England.
  • If they were to England’s detriment on Saturday then they were to be a massive positive this time around.
  • But the question that has to be asked is that did Hodgson only play that card because he was forced into it?
  • Yes it was good he made the positive changes after both Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling turned in poor performances.
  • But if England weren’t behind then would there have been the same misguided loyalty in his players.
  • Have we almost lucked into what is now our best 11.
  • I’d be surprised if Sterling gets another start in this tournament his performances have been woeful
  • While Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge will definitely be knocking on the door to start against Slovakia
  • The game didn’t really get going until 20 minutes or so. Sterling had the best of what the few early chances there were
  • Adam Lallana’s well placed cross was teed up for Sterling to prod home but instead he let the ball go across his body and he ended up scuffing over the bar with his left foot
  • For all the hype it was going to be a relatively cagey start almost scrappy at times but then the game started to warm up
  • England may have felt they had a shout for a Penalty as Ben Davies seem to handle the ball but it was deemed unintentional
  • Then Chris Smalling saw his header from 12 yards just sail wide of the post
  • Wales were comfortable in position but not really effective with it at the same time
  • Joe Allen was failing to find Gareth Bale and the Real Madrid forward cut a lonely figure
  • But Wales showed fight and desire and it was epitomised by Hal Robson-Kanu he tussled to win the ball back from Wayne Rooney with the record England goalscorer then going on to give away a freekick in frustration after losing possession
  • Rooney should have known better not to give away a freekick but it was 35 yards out and it wasn’t that much of a threat
  • But step forward Gareth Bale
  • After his goal against Slovakia on Saturday he certainly fancied his chances
  • This one was further out though
  • A fantastic strike to get it on target from that range
  • But surely Joe Hart would be equal to that
  • Only he wasn’t
  • Hart didn’t show enough strength in his wrists as he tried to palm the ball out. The ball then slipping past him and rolling into the England net to give Wales the advantage just two minutes before the break
  • The red parts of the stadium were in raptures while England fans across the country were cursing yet another of those England performances
  • Half time came and Hodgson was forced into substitutons
  • Without sounding dramatic, ones that could have almost saved his job
  • England had to simply go for it and to be fair to them that is exactly what they did
  • From the off they had Wales pinned back
  • Chris Coleman’s side now seemingly willing to give England the ball and just decamp n their own half
  • Or maybe it was just because Kyle Walker was absolutely relentless in his foray’s down the right hand side
  • He was playing as an auxiliary right midfielder for most of the second half as England looked in search for an equliser
  • And after 56 minutes they got their just rewards
  • Jamie Vardy prodded home from close range, it wasn’t the most prettiest goal but frankly no one cared as England were now level
  • There was more than a hint of offside initially but replays showed that Ashley Williams was the man who knocked the ball on for Vardy
  • Either the Assistant Referee made a fantastic call or England got incredibly lucky, that is an inquest for another day I guess
  • With the wind in their sails England then hunted down a winner
  • Hodgson rolled the dice again with Marcus Rashford replacing the impressive Adam Lallana
  • It really was all out attack but Wales were doing enough to keep England at bay as the game looked to be fizzling out to a draw
  • Further and further Wales were pinned back but their resolve couldn’t be broken
  • That was until the 91st minute when in a cramped penalty area, Dele Alli and Daniel Sturridge found enough space to interchange passes
  • Sturridge then had the anticipation to keep running and he fired a low shot past the ailing Wayne Hennessy to put England in front
  • But it still wasn’t quite over, Wales had a rare break into England’s half and a hopeful cross field pass was fired towards the England penalty area where out of nowhere Bale came sprinting in to meet the ball with a powerful header but the ball sailed just wide
  • A real heart in mouth moment for England but there would be no late goal conceded two games in a row
  • Seconds later the whistle had gone for full time and England go top of the group
  • Those 45 minutes were some of the best that England had played in recent memory, but it was definitely because of the fact that it was almost do or die for not only them but Hodgson also
  • People will remember it as a great win but it does slightly paper over the cracks
  • The positives we can take from this though is that now with ironed out the kinks of the opening two games then it should set us in good stead for the rest of the tournament.
  • Next up it’s Slovakia. A win would see us top the group while a draw would see us qualify for the Round of 16, while defeat would almost see Hodgson’s spell as England boss draw to a close.
  • As for Wales they now need to dust themselves off as they go up against Russia knowing a win will also see them qualify. On the basis of those two performances they have already offered they should be more than confident of booking their own berth in the knockout stages.
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