MARSEILLE (REUTERS) – A stoppage-time goal by Vasili Berezutski, helped over the line by Denis Glushakov, gave Russia an unlikely 1-1 Euro 2016 draw with England on Saturday after Eric Dier appeared to have won the game.
England were on top for most of the game, producing a performance of verve and confidence that belied the youth of the squad, and were well worth the lead earned by Dier’s brilliant free kick from the edge of the box after 73 minutes.
Vast swathes of England fans filling most of the 67,000 Stade Velodrome seats were acclaiming the win only for captain Berezutski to leap above Danny Rose and loop a header beyond Joe Hart that substitute Glushakov touched, seemingly over the line, although organisers UEFA awarded the skipper the goal.
“I think we played very well the whole game and to give away the draw like that at the end is very disappointing,” said Dier.
“We didn’t see it out in the right way but we didn’t lose.
“We have got to pick ourselves up and go again. I thought our level was extremely high...we did everything right.”
The equaliser meant England have failed to win their opening game in any of their nine appearances at the European Championship and puts Wales in pole position in Group B after their earlier 2-1 win over Slovakia.
There were ugly scenes at the end of the match as scores of Russian supporters advanced on their England counterparts, tearing down flags and throwing missiles while stewards stood on the pitch and watched.
The trouble was the latest chapter in three days and nights of disorder in the city with officials braced for more as the supporters, plus another 80,000 from the fan zone, converge on the Old Port area.
It had all looked so promising for England as coach Roy Hodgson sent out a team oozing attacking talent, opting to use the experience of captain Wayne Rooney as a midfield fulcrum and Harry Kane as lone striker.
The formation worked superbly as wide men Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana, ably supported by rampaging full backs Rose and Kyle Walker, penetrated a porous-looking Russian defence at will in one of the most vibrant 45-minute spells England have put together for years.
Lallana, Deli Alli, Kane and Rooney all had decent chances in the first half as Russia chased shadows but keeper Igor Akinfeev dealt with everything without being over-stretched.
Russia seemed to be suffering from the absence of the combative Igor Denisov, ruled out of the tournament through injury last week, as Roman Neustadter and Alexander Golovin, both making their competitive debuts, were left chasing shadows.
The Russians gained a foothold in the second half, slowing the game down and finally keeping some possession, with Fedor Smolov curling one effort just wide.
England, though, went close again as Rooney drove in a low goalbound shot from the edge of the box which Akinfeev somehow deflected up on to the bar.
That got their tails up and moments later they made the breakthrough as Dier slammed a superb effort into the top corner of the net.
England thought they had done enough but were eventually undone by the most basic of long balls launched diagonally into the box, leaving them with work to do to ensure qualification for the last 16.