Lee Davy brings you up to speed with all results from the European Championships including the last gasp winner from Daniel Sturridge as England beat Wales, Northern Ireland defeating Ukraine, and Poland getting a point against the World Champions Germany.
The decision to extend the 2016 European Championships Finals to 24 teams means that it’s more difficult NOT to qualify for the Round of 16, and yet for 50-minutes of England’s Battle of Britain encounter against Wales, it looked like that’s exactly what was going to happen to Roy Hodgson’s side.
The England manager kept faith with the team cruelly robbed of three points in the last minute of their opener with Russia. That decision meant Jamie Vardy started on the bench, and the out of sorts Raheem Sterling didn’t. Hodgson showed faith in the Manchester City winger. Sterling let him down.
“We are carrying him,” said BBC pundit Alan Shearer during the half time break.
By that time England were a goal down thanks to a ferocious 30-yard free kick from Gareth Bale. The goal, which was completely against the run of play, came just before half time. It was a rocket, but a rocket that Joe Hart should have saved.
England’s best chance of the half fell to that man Sterling when he sent the ball over the bar from six-yards out when it looked harder to score. It was a chance a certain Jamie Vardy would have buried, and Hodgson held his hands up at half time – Vardy coming on for Sterling, and Daniel Sturridge coming on for the tired looking Harry Kane.
It took Vardy three touches to show Sterling how to put the ball into the back of the net. A touch of penalty area pinball seeing the ball rebound into the path of Vardy, via the head of Ashley Williams, and the Leicester man, spun and fired the ball home to level things up.
England dominated from that point. Hodgson and his backroom staff knew the three points would be vital heading into their final game against a rejuvenated Slovakia. Hodgson replaced the leggy Adam Lallana with the sprightly Marcus Rashford – they were going for the jugular.
With all the talk of Jamie Vardy warming his ass on the bench, we forgot that Daniel Sturridge was even in the picture. According to Hodgson, Sturridge had been on fire in training, and suddenly he looked the likeliest player to pick the lock that was holding the Welsh defence in one piece.
Then with the clock heading into the final minute of injury time, Sturridge found a gap in the Welsh defence and managed to smuggle the ball past Wayne Hennessey to send England to the top of Group B, leaving the valiant Welsh on their knees.
Group B Results
England 1 v 1 Russia
Wales 2 v 1 Slovakia
Russia 1 v 2 Slovakia
England 2 v 1 Wales
Group B Table
- England 4 pts
- Slovakia 3 pts
- Wales 3 pts
- Russia 1 pts
England is 2/7 to win Group B after their victory over the Welsh. Chris Coleman’s side is still 1/6 to qualify from the group. They will need at least a point in their last game against Russia to make certain of that.
Group C Round Up: Northern Ireland Beat Ukraine; Germany Draw With Poland
There was nothing cute about Northern Ireland’s victory against Ukraine, but ‘cute’ is not going to be good enough to reach the knockout stages of this competition.
The last two times these sides had faced each other they ended in goalless draws. For large parts of this one, it seemed a third was on its way. The most exciting moment of the match being the size of the hailstones that caused the referee to call a halt to proceedings for three minutes in the second half.
Ukraine looked lively in their opener against Germany. They looked lifeless today. Northern Ireland was industrious if not inventive. Michael O’Neill made five changes from the side that suffered an opening group match defeat to Poland. A brave decision from the manager and one that worked.
Northern Ireland always had more drive, passion, and work ethic. That’s never going to be an issue. The problem with Northern Ireland is that little piece of skill that makes all the difference in these events. Wales have Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey; Northern Ireland doesn’t have players of that ilk.
They do have Gareth McCauley, a centre-half who scores more international goals than most other centre half’s, and it was the West Brom defender who gave Ireland the lead with a stunning header just after half time. Ukraine should have bombed forward looking for an equaliser. They didn’t. Ireland secured the tie with virtually the last kick of the game when Niall McGinn tapped the ball in from close range.
It was the green army’s first-ever win in the European Championships and the first in major finals for 30-years.
Poland and Germany met in the Stade de France knowing a draw should be enough to guarantee that both sides would progress to the Round of 16 one way or another, and that’s exactly how the game panned out.
It was a game woefully short of chances. Poland looked the more dangerous going forward, and Arkadiusz Milik will be having nightmares tonight as reruns of his open goal miss flash through his mind.
In the end, a goalless draw suited both sides. Poland will now face a Ukraine side who have been beaten twice already, and Germany will take on the minnows from Northern Ireland. It’s a tight group. Poland looks a good side, and I fancy them to have a good deep run. Germany is competing without a decent striker and that will be their Achilles heel.
Group C Results
Poland 1 v 0 Northern Ireland
Germany 2 v 0 Ukraine
Northern Ireland 2 v 0 Ukraine
Germany 0 v 0 Poland
Group C Table
- Germany – 4 pts
- Poland – 4 pts
- Northern Ireland – 3 pts
- Ukraine – 0 pts.
Germany is 1/6 favourites to win the group, with Poland at 11/2. Northern Ireland is 1/5 to qualify after that famous win.
Germany remains second favourites behind France at 17/4 to win the tournament outright despite a less than impressive start. England is still a 17/2 fourth favourite. France is favourites at 15/4, with Spain second favourites at 9/2.