Belfast Telegraph

Gutted Wales boys must show steel, insists boss Coleman

By Mark Ogden

Chris Coleman described Wales' stoppage time defeat against England in Lens as 'gut-wrenching' after Daniel Sturridge's late winner left the Welsh facing a final-game decider against Russia to secure qualification from Group B.

Having taken a first-half lead through Gareth Bale's 35-yard free-kick, Wales were on course to qualify as group winners until substitutes Jamie Vardy and Sturridge completed a dramatic fightback for England.

Wales will still qualify for the knock-out stages if they secure at least a point against Russia or if England defeat Slovakia in St Etienne on Monday. But having come so close to claiming a point against England, Wales manager Coleman could not disguise his frustration after the game.

"To lose like that was gut-wrenching for us and our supporters," Coleman said. "We are gutted, absolutely devastated, but we have to show our mettle and some steel now.

"Is it one of lowest moments? I have to say yes. When you come that close to getting a result, it has to be. We came so close to keeping them at bay.

"But we have to get over it. England conceded in the last minute against Russia and got over it, so we have to get ourselves ready as quickly as we can for Russia.

"We weren't stretched too badly, so to lose in the dying seconds as we did, I can't say I have ever felt as disappointed too many times in my career."

With Hodgson's half-time changes ultimately proving the difference for England, Coleman admitted that the quality on the opposition bench was always going to be a concern for Wales.

"When you are bringing on the likes of Vardy and Sturridge and Sterling and Kane are going off, they are top players," Coleman said. "We knew that it would be tough, it was a good old fashioned derby.

"They had been on such a good run coming into this tournament, we knew they would be disappointed after a point against Russia and they would come on strong and it wasn't to be in the end.

"A point for us would have fantastic, but congratulations to Roy - he made some good substitutions and we knew they would push us back.

"Most of the time we looked quite strong and although they had a lot of possession, I wasn't that worried.

"The guys showed great heart. They stuck into the game and with 60 seconds remaining, to give up that point we worked so hard for, we are gutted but we have to move on."

Bale, whose free-kick was Wales' first goal against England since Mark Hughes scored in a 1-0 win in 1984, insisted Coleman's team can still qualify from the group.

"Obviously it is massively disappointing but I am very proud of everybody," Bale said.

"We gave everything like we always do and I have said before if we go out but have given 100 per cent then we can't do any more."

Belfast Telegraph