Wednesday, April 17, 2024

REWIND: England nudge out Wales in France

Euro 2016 brings some pretty poor memories to the fore for England fans, but there’s one particular game that always stands out from the crowd as the one and only highlight of that disastrous tournament.

England v Wales – Euro 2016 – The Game

After a first half full of chances for England, with the likes of Raheem Sterling going close and Chris Smalling nodding just wide, it was actually Wales who would take the lead in this one.

Gareth Bale stood over a free-kick, dead centre of the goal around 35 yards out. He stood with his chest puffed out in the way he normally does, then unleashed a venomous strike into the bottom corner, squeezing it past Joe Hart in the England goal.

Hart should have done a much better job with the effort and parried it around it the post but alas, he wasn’t able to and Gareth Bale sent the thousands of Welsh supporters wild inside the ground in Lens.

England managed to find an equaliser eleven minutes into the second period through Jamie Vardy.

Daniel Sturridge picked the ball up to the left of the area and floated a cross towards Gary Cahill in the area. Cahill couldn’t get off the floor and Ashley Williams rose to clear, but inadvertently nodded it back over to Jamie Vardy, two yards from the net. He smashed it home from right under the crossbar to level the scores.

As the game went on, England searched and searched for a winner. From the 73rd minute when Marcus Rashford came off the bench, Roy Hodgson’s team had four strikers on the pitch.

In the 92nd minute, England managed to get their winner in dramatic fashion. Sturridge picked the ball up on the left, brought it infield and played a pass into the feet of Jamie Vardy at the edge of the area.

The Leicester striker tried to lay it into the path of Dele Alli but the Spurs midfielder was crowded out. Not to worry though, Sturridge came barreling in, forced his way forward into the area and toe poked the ball cheekily beyond Wayne Hennessey to give England all three points and send thousands of fans out of their mind.

Absolute pandemonium hit the country as the ball hit the back of the net! What a win this was. A goal down to come and win the game in injury time at a tournament? Surely not England…

What did it do for the group?

Wales had won their opening game in Group B against Slovakia, while England had merely drawn with Russia so coming into the game, Wales were top of the group table.

However, due to England stealing all three points at the death, Hodgson’s men would go top of the group and Slovakia’s win over Russia on the same day meant that they would stay top until the next round of fixtures.

The final round of group games saw England take on Slovakia knowing a win would see them top the group and head through the round of 16 as a top seeded team.

However, England only managed a draw while Wales battered Russia 3-0 meaning that Hodgson’s men would qualify second and play Iceland in the next round… and we all know how that one went.

Meanwhile, Wales drew Northern Ireland in the round of 16, whom they dispatched with a 1-0 win. They then picked up an incredible 3-1 win over Belgium in the quarter-finals to book their place in the final four where they would lose to eventual champions Portugal.

Although the tournament as a whole was unsuccessful for England, this one game stood out as the moment of the tournament for us fans. That last minute goal was a brilliant feeling – it’s all I choose to remember when looking back at this tournament.

I’ve just blocked out the rest…

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