Russia grab late leveller to hold England to defiant draw in Euro 2016 opener


Lee Gormley | June 11, 2016

England 1-1 Russia

  • Wales win before game put instant pressure on England in Euro 2016 Group B
  • Harry Kane has ball in net, but ruled out for offside
  • England end first 45 frustrated at 0-0 despite dominance
  • Three Lions continued impressive form into second-half
  • Dier finally opened scoring with lovely free-kick after 73 minutes
  • Russia captain Vasili Berezutski bags stoppage time equaliser

England held to defiant draw by Russia

England were held to a 1-1 draw by a defiant Russia side in their opening Euro 2016 Group B clash, with Eric Dier giving Roy Hodgson’s men a deserved second-half lead before Vasili Berezutski bagged a stoppage time equaliser.

The Three Lions had dominated proceedings throughout at the Stade Velodrome, with Harry Kane seeing a first-half strike ruled out for offside and fellow forwards Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling enjoying impressive outings.

Russia had defiantly held out their opponents for 73 minutes, forcing England into the break at 0-0, but Dier’s curling set-piece in the latter stages looked to have given them a positive start until Russian skipper Berezutski headed home deep into added time.

England begin promisingly

With Wales having edged past Slovakia in their opener to initially go top of Group B, the pressure was on England immediately from kick-off to get off to a winning start at the famous Stade Velodrome.

Sterling found acres of space through the middle early on and made a surging run forward, but his pass towards Kane was poor and the move broke down for the Russians to easily deal with.

The Manchester City attacker was again a threat after three minutes, this time from a wide left position, as his lofted chip forward eventually fell for an incoming Dele Alli, though the Spurs midfielder’s volley went sailing wide.

Russia stopper Igor Akinfeev was called into action moments later to deny a thunderous close-range effort from Lallana, after Artyom Dzyuba had failed to make the most of an opportunity at the other end. Sterling sprung to life again after eight minutes, picking out a free Alli and his header was agonisingly close to finding a lurking Kane for the opener.

Kane was again on corner kick duties for the Three Lions, much to the bemusement of the travelling fans, but his delivery after 12 minutes found a towering Chris Smalling, as the Manchester United centre back sent a thumping header straight at Akinfeev to collect.

Three Lions dominate first-half

The partnership between Manchester City wideman Sterling and full back Danny Rose was beginning to look like the most likely source of a decisive move, while Liverpool playmaker Lallana missed a great chance to open proceedings after 20 minutes gone but he could along drag his shot wide.

Sterling found himself through on goal off a well-timed Lallana ball from the right moments later, though Russian defender Igor Smolnikov got back brilliantly to thwart any shot on goal, but England’s continuous success to carve out chances was looking positive.

Lovely build-up play from Rose and Lallana led to another opportunity for Spurs hitman Kane before the half-hour mark, and the England number nine had the ball in Russia’s net but his strike was ruled out for a an obvious offside.

Three Lions skipper Wayne Rooney had been deployed in a midfield role by Hodgson and the all-time marksman was enjoying himself, with the Man Utd captain showcasing his range of passing ability from deep with a delightful ball to Alli on 32 minutes. The Spurs youngster was closed out by many Russian bodies though.

Despite dominating the entire opening 45 minutes, England frustratingly went into the break without a goal, as the Russians held out their relentless efforts and got time to regroup.

Russians stand defiant still

After a half-time talk with their boss Leonid Slutsky, Russia came out with a lot more confidence in possession, with a dangerous delivery from Aleksandr Kokorin causing concern for the England rearguard until Gary Cahill was able to clear the danger.

Although, the Three Lions regained their grasp on the game before the hour mark and won a series of free-kicks in promising positions around the Russian penalty area, though both Kane and Rooney’s set-piece attempts failed to test Akinfeev.

Hodgson’s men were steadily building up their attacks but were still being frustrated by a deep-lying Russian defence, and a quick break from the latter forced Cahill into a rash challenge to halt Dzyuba and receive the first yellow card of the match.

Igor Smolnikov was suffering on the left flank at the hands of a quick-footed Sterling, as the Sky Blues winger continued to cause havoc from the wide areas, but his latest cross was easily dealt with by Sergei Ignashevich with Kane lingering in the background.

Dier finally gives England the lead

Russian number one Akinfeev was again the hero after 69 minutes as he got down swiftly to his right to get a string hand on Rooney’s side-footed shot from inside the box, as it looked certain the skipper had finally broken the deadlock.

After hammering at the Russian door for over 70 minutes, holding midfielder Eric Dier sent the England fans into hysterics with a superb curling free-kick. Kane ran over the ball to leave his Tottenham teammate with the shot from the edge of the penalty area, and Dier obliged by firing in a brilliant opener.

The Three Lions, who are 11/2 with Coral to taste defeat to rivals Wales in their next Group B encounter, saw Dier become the eighth ever Spurs player to score for them at a major tournament and looked capable of holding onto their advantage.

Russia had hardly threatened throughout the encounter but, after 92 minutes played, skipper Berezutski broke England hearts when heading in a very late leveller to secure a point and hold their opponents to a 1-1 stalemate in their Euro 2016 Group B opener.


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