The clash between England and Wales was expected to be an exciting one but only one team turned up as England emerged 2-1 winners, coming from behind to seal their first win of the competition.
England had chances; Raheem Sterling, fortunate to be playing following his showing against Russia, was guilty of skying his effort after good work from Adam Lallana out wide. It was Wales who took the lead just before half time, after a long distance Gareth Bale freekick disappointingly evaded Joe Hart and found it’s way into the back of the net.
England needed a change and this came as the match resumed after the break with Sterling and the again poor Harry Kane swapped for Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy and things immediately looked more positive.
A ball from Daniel Sturridge into the box was knocked down by Welsh captain Ashley William to Jamie Vardy who, in an offside position, swept home to hand England the equaliser. From that moment on it was all England as Roy Hodgson’s side went looking for the equaliser.
There was a tournament debut for young Marcus Rashford too as Hodgson applied more pressure and eventually it paid off as Sturridge was able to put past Wayne Hennessey from close range and hand England 3 points at the second time of asking.
We spoke to Jason Cundy about the game and he had some interesting comments including a u-turn on Wayne Rooney as well as a scything analysis of Wales:
On Wayne Rooney
He was very good today and after these 2 performances I’ve changed my mind – he starts no question. I’m still amazed how much time and space he has been given in the competition, it doesn’t take a genius to understand giving Wayne Rooney time and space will allow him to hurt you. Chris Coleman should have told his side stop him at the earliest opportunity, with the nearest man closing him down.
He had some brilliant flashes today and kept the ball well but most importantly for me he was effect on the edge of the box, unlike against Russia. He, and Alli, both got in support of the front men today and England looked a more potent attacking force.
Bale & Wales
For all his talk during the week, Gareth Bale disappointingly didn’t back it up. He stuck his neck out and it backfired badly.
It’s one thing to do it in qualification, or against Slovakia or give it the big ‘un in a presser but when his side needed him he today against England, he didn’t stand up to be counted.
Apart from his goal he didn’t do much and was completely ineffective as an attacking force. A day to forget for the Real Madrid man.
For the possession England had, a win was very much deserved, but it must be said that Wales were average and have got this far on team spirit.
They are a limited side badly in need of some quality and learned today that passion and team spirit can only get you so far.
I’d even go as far as calling them a pub side, the difference in quality told when they had to resort to bringing on David Edwards from mid to lower table Championship side Wolves in an attempt to get some sort of control in the game.
Raheem, Sturridge and Hodgson
Sterling isn’t having the best of competitions and looks completely out of sorts. He should have finished that chance in the first half and it is likely will have to take a place on the bench in the next game.
Hodgson rolled the dice with his substitutions and got it right with Sterling’s replacement coming on and creating one and scoring the winner. Personally I don’t think he had the best game, but you can’t argue with that.
The thing with Sturridge is he can do a bit more on the edge of the box, even if he over did things ie one dribble more than he needs to, a touch more, a trick more etc
But despite this, Sterling is missing this aspect to his game and if he doesn’t get in behind he doesn’t have a trick to beat a man.
Vardy’s fairytale continues with him getting a goal, and I think after many called for him to come on against Russia he gave a timely reminder of what he can do, simply score goals.
Even Marcus Rashford looked good in his cameo, buzzing in and around the box and impressively looking totally unflustered and calm amidst the chaos of his side chasing a goal.