Belfast Telegraph

Roy Hodgson's relief as England enjoy win over Wales

England 2-1 Wales

By Mark Ogden

Roy Hodgson insisted he had no sympathy for Wales after Daniel Sturridge moved England to the top of Group B with a stoppage time winner which capped a dramatic Euro 2016 fightback in Lens.

Sturridge's goal, scored with just one minute left to play, secured a 2-1 win after fellow substitute Jamie Vardy had cancelled out Gareth Bale's first-half opener for Chris Coleman's team.

With Bale's pre-match fighting talk prompting Hodgson (below) to insist that England's actions would ultimately speak louder than words, the Real Madrid winger's 35-yard free-kick threatened to give the Welsh further ammunition for verbal attacks against the English.

But with England's second-half performance proving enough to win the game and virtually secure progression to the knock-out stages, Hodgson admitted he did not feel sorry for Wales. "If I had been watching from afar and not been with England and watching Wales play some other opponent I would have felt very sorry for them," Hodgson said. "But they will have to excuse me not feeling sorry for them because I want to be pleased with ourselves.

"It's certainly two different ends to the spectrum. It's a long time since myself and the coaching staff have showed such joy at a goal.

"That's because that goal the other night (against Russia) put us under a bit of pressure.

"When the chances don't go in and you've compounded your task by conceding that Gareth Bale goal, it really is a happy moment when both the substitutes score.

"But I thought it was on the cards all the way through the second half. We were a hair's breadth away so many times, but it took until the 92nd minute."

Having kept faith with the starting XI which drew 1-1 with Russia in Marseille last Saturday, Hodgson withdrew Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling at half-time following the pair's unimpressive first-half performance.

The introduction of Vardy and Sturridge transformed England, but Hodgson remained insistent that he was right to keep the same starting team for this game.

"We thought a lot about what the starting eleven should be, but I didn't want to start breaking eggs with a big stick," Hodgson said. "I thought I would keep one or two up my sleeve.

"I was kind of counting on us seeing out the first-half and then making a change, but the goal meant it was pushed on to me a bit.

"I was always in our thoughts to bring on Vardy and Sturridge and then bring on Jack Wilshere or Marcus Rashford when we were looking for a goal, but in the second half, it was much more aggressive in terms of our attacking play.

"Was it the best double substitution of my career? When you've been in football a long time, you find it hard to remember, but it's certainly my best double substitution of these Euros, albeit after two games."

England could be confirmed as having qualified for the knock-out stage if results in other groups ensure that at least third place in Group B will be enough for qualification.

And Hodgson admitted he may make changes against Slovakia in St Etienne next Monday.

"The third game was always going to be a team selection headache after players playing twice in a short period of time," Hodgson said.

"That headache was always going to exist."

ENGLAND: Hart, Walker, Smalling, Cahill, Rose, Dier, Rooney, Alli, Lallana (Rashford, 73 mins), Kane (Vardy, 46 mins),Sterling (Sturridge, 46 mins).

Unused subs: Forster, Milner, Clyne, Henderson, Stones, Wilshere, Barkley, Bertrand, Heaton.

Goals: Vardy 56, Sturridge 90.

WALES: Hennessey, Chester, A Williams, Davies, Gunter, Allen, Ledley (Edwards, 67 mins),Ramsey,Taylor, Bale, Robson-Kanu (J Williams, 71 mins).

Unused subs: Fon Williams, King, G Williams, Richards, Cotterill, Vokes, Collins, Vaughan, Church, Ward.

Goals: Bale 42.

Yellow cards: Davies.

Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)

Match rating: 7/10

Man of the match: Kyle Walker

Possession: England 64% Wales 36%

Shots on target: England 4 Wales 2

Fouls committed: England 10 Wales 9

Belfast Telegraph