Euro 2016

English subs clinch win

Hodgson vindicated by half-time changes as Three Lions earn bragging rights over Wales

GROUP B

England 2 Wales 1

Daniel Sturridge's shot bobbled in at the near post yesterday. The substitute had struck. Indeed, a second replacement had scored.

England conjured a win that owed much to their reserves and Roy Hodgson. They had won the Battle of Britain at the European Championship and won a first game in a major tournament since beating Ukraine in Euro 2012. It was a memorable, meaningful comeback.

When Euro 2012 was staged, Jamie Vardy's only experience was in non-league football. Four years on, Euro 2016 has been shaped by a fast-emerging late developer. Vardy came off the bench to score with his third touch. He levelled, with the aid of Sturridge.

The United Kingdom's outstanding talent, Gareth Bale, had put Wales ahead. An early, ignominious exit beckoned for England.

Then Hodgson, faulted for his cautious substitutions against Russia, intervened. He was bolder and braver this time.

England's Jamie Vardy scoring the equaliser past Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey after coming on as a second-half substitute. His fellow replacement Daniel Sturridge later scored an injury-time winner to send England to the top of Group B.
England’s Jamie Vardy scoring the equaliser past Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey after coming on as a second-half substitute. His fellow replacement Daniel Sturridge later scored an injury-time winner to send England to the top of Group B. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

A desperate situation called for drastic action. Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling were removed, Sturridge and Vardy introduced. Hodgson was soon vindicated. Both replacements were involved in the equaliser.

Sturridge chipped in a cross, Wales captain Ashley Williams headed it down and Vardy hooked in a shot. The Football Writers' Player of the Year had a fourth goal for his country. His remarkable rise continues.

So does Marcus Rashford's. He was brought on, eclipsing Wayne Rooney as England's youngest ever player in a European Championship at 18 years 228 days old.

Yet it was an earlier arrival who turned match winner in injury time. Sturridge, Vardy and Dele Alli combined, if not quite in the way they tried to. The Liverpool forward reacted with predatory expertise.

It was a reward for England's sense of adventure, for their determination. They made history in the process. They had never previously been behind at half-time in a major tournament match and won. Now, with four points from two games, they are on the brink of securing a place in the last 16.

Hodgson, whose managerial career would surely have ended with a group-stage exit, was justified in his positive changes.

EUPHORIA

Great feeling, unbelievable. It's a beautiful feeling to represent your country. There's one more game in the group so no one wants to get too excited. But the atmosphere is amazing. It's great to help the boys win the game.

DANIEL STURRIDGE, England striker, on coming on to get the winner against Wales.

The newcomers lent a sharpness. Their predecessors on the pitch had offered little.

Sterling, shorn of confidence, had missed England's finest first-half chance, skewing a shot over the bar. Kane had claimed a penalty when his header hit Ben Davies' hand but in that, as in much else, he was frustrated.

Wales were on the back foot, but could afford to sit back. They defended doggedly and only required one chance to score.

For 41 minutes, Bale was muted. Then Rooney fouled Hal Robson-Kanu, some 35 metres out. Bale struck the set piece with pace and Joe Hart got two hands to it. He should have kept it out. Instead, it nestled in the back of the net.

It was Wales' first goal against England since 1984, but they still have not beaten their neighbours for 32 years.


FIGURING OUT THE MATCH

1 Wales scored with their first shot on target against England.

2 Gareth Bale has scored from two direct free kicks, joining Michel Platini (1984) and Thomas Hassler (1992) as the only players to have done so at the European Championship.

3 Jamie Vardy scored with his third touch of the ball.

4 At 18 years and 228 days old, Marcus Rashford is four days younger than Wayne Rooney was when he first played for England at the Euro 2004.

10 Daniel Sturridge becomes the 10th England player to score in both the World Cup and European Championship.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2016, with the headline 'English subs clinch win'. Print Edition | Subscribe