England 1 v 1 Russia – Euro 2016 Group B

ENG 1:1 RUS – all the promise and endeavour England have shown in the last year was apparent from the first whistle at the Le Nouveau Stade Vélodrome against a very one-dimensional Russian side who lacked any real quality. A dominant display in which the Three Lions spurned numerous chances to go ahead offered up everything but a goal. The energy and intelligence of Dele Alli was at the centre of much of what England did best. Adam Lallana and captain Wayne Rooney both fired directly at the Russian keeper Igor Akinfeev when placement either side of the CSKA Moscow stopper would have resulted in England taking the lead. Lallana again dragged wide after excellent build up play between Alli and full-back Kyle Walker who was adventurous throughout and England’s best outlet at times. As dominant as England were, Russia were stubbornly robust at the back. Veterans Sergei Ignashevich and skipper Vasili Berezutski were magnificent, and a wonderful saving tackle from FC Zenit Saint Petersburg full-back Igor Smolnikov kept his team in the game. Tactically Russia grew into the game in the 2nd half with Igor Smolnikov going close and big target man Artyom Dzyuba causing problems for England’s centre-backs with some classic hold-up play. Out of form trio Rooney, Lallana and Sterling faded after the break and a familiar frustration threatened to set in. Rooney disappointingly scuffed a shot from 12 yards allowing Akinfeev to parry the ball onto the bar before the new generation took over – a mazy, skilful run from Alli drew a free-kick on the edge of the Russian box which bestie Eric Dier thumped into the top corner! The goal freed England up and they once again started to express themselves creating a couple of good chances to extend their lead. A lapse in concentration after lacklustre play from substitutes James Milner and Jack Wilshere allowed the Russians to break quickly and from the resulting corner a giant leap from the imperious Vasili Berezutski nicked a point for Leonid Slutsky‘s side in the final minute. Roy Hodgson will rue not seeing out a win but if there is anything to learn it is that there is new blood in this England side and the coach needs to do more to embrace it. Oh, and on a personal note, get the Premier League‘s top scorer off corners and in the mixer!!!

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