England 1-1 Russia
England were left stunned by an injury time Russian equalizer tonight as Roy Hodgson’s men squandered numerous chances against a by and large poor Russian team. England had taken the lead through a well struck Eric Dier free-kick but Russian captain Vasili Berezutski rose like a salmon to power home a bullet header past Joe Hart in the English goal.
England completely dominated the opening 45 minutes of play. Adam Lallana had the best of the chances but the Liverpool man couldn’t beat the agile Igor Akinfeev in the Russian goal. Russia had few chances in the first half with the back four launching balls forwards toward target man Artem Dzyuba, needless to say these balls rarely found their intended target. The Russian’s defence looked suspect to say the least but right-back Igor Smolnikov was impressive both going forward and in defence. Smolnikov produced a textbook last-minute tackle to deny Raheem Sterling a clear shot on goal in the first half. Russia showed glimpses of their quality at times but were severely pinned back by England for large periods of the half. Akinfeev was called into action from a Wayne Rooney strike as the first half drew to a close and was a key reason why the sides went down the tunnel goalless at the break.
The Russian half-time team talk worked a treat as Leonid Slutsky’s men began the second half firing on all cylinders. They probed the English defence in the opening exchanges but couldn’t find a way through. England then began to take over once again. Russia were under increasing pressure and left-back Georgi Shchennikov conceded a free-kick just outside the area with 73 minutes played. Spurs duo Harry Kane and Eric Dier stood over the free. Kane who had been on corner duty all night stepped over the ball allowing Dier to strike the ball into the top left-hand corner of Akinfeev’s goal leaving the keeper red-faced.
Hodgson opted to settle for a one goal win opting to take off captain Rooney and Sterling bringing on Jack Wilshere and James Milner. This decision to defend a lead rather tank search for a second goal came back to haunt the Englishman. Aleksandr Kokorin took control of the ball in the first of three additional minutes deep in English territory. He whipped in a cross that was cleared well by Chris Smalling. While England dealt with that subsequent corner they didn’t expect captain Vasili Berezutski to stay in the box. Shchennikov sent the ball towards the far side of the box where Berezutski leapt to head home a pin-point accurate header to level the sides in the 92nd minute.
England and Russia sit in joint second behind leaders Wales who enjoyed a 2-1 win over Slovakia in Group B’s other game today.
Man of the Match – Eric Dier (England)
- Jack Wilshere replaces Wayne Rooney 77 mins
- James Milner replaces Rameem Sterling 87 mins
- Roman Shirokov replaces Aleksandr Golovin 77 mins
- Denis Glushakov replaces Roman Neustaedter 80 mins
- Pavel Mamaev replaces Fedor Smolov
England – Gary Cahill
Russia – Georgi Shchennikov