England progress as Group B runners-up after frustrating bore draw with Slovakia
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | June 20, 2016
England 0-0 Slovakia
- Hodgson made six changes to his starting XI from Wales game
- Vardy, Lallana and Henderson all had decent first-half chances
- Clyne and sub Alli came close to scoring after break
- Slovakia keeper Kozacik had terrific game to shut out Three Lions
- Draw means England qualify but only as Group B runners-up
- England now face one of Hungary, Iceland, Portugal or Austria
- Slovakia finish third with four points
England rue missed chances and finish second
England secured their passage to the Euro 2016 knockout phase, but had to settle with the runner-up spot as they drew 0-0 with Slovakia while neighbours Wales finished top after smashing Russia 3-0.
It was a typical display by Roy Hodgson’s side (7/1 with Coral to lift the European Championship), who showed plenty of promise, possession and attacking play, but were just unable to convert chances.
Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge, supersub scorers against Wales, were among six changes to England’s starting XI for their final Group B game with Slovakia.
It was another in Nathaniel Clyne, though, who created the first chance of the match, as he sprinted down the right hand side of the pitch before finding out Vardy, who couldn’t keep his shot down.
Vardy straight out the blocks
The in-demand Leicester City striker was heavily involved in the action early on, and almost combined with Sturridge in the ninth minute in this new-look attack from the off.
Adam Lallana, starting his third successive match these finals, soon after had an effort, though on his weaker left foot was unable to hit the target or get much power.
Vardy was finally able to show off his famed pace in the 17th minute, after latching on to a fine long through-ball from Jordan Henderson deep in his own half and sprinting with ease past Martin Skrtel, but Slovakia keeper Matus Kozacik stood tall and blocked the shot.
Slovakia began to grow in confidence as the half progressed, testing the Three Lions defence with plays mainly involving key man Marek Hamsik, though were unable to find away to force Joe Hart into a save.
England have chance but can’t convert
However, it was Lallana who came closest to breaking the deadlock after 33 minutes after striking well inside the box. Unfortunately for him and England fans, it was straight at the keeper again.
Roy Hodgson’s men kept pressing, and Henderson could’ve given the Three Lions the lead just before the break, if only his thunderous shot didn’t hit the head of centre back Jan Durica.
Hart was finally tested early int he second-half, and in quick succession. First, after having to punch away from a dangerous free-kick, and then after being involved in a mix-up with Chris Smalling as Robert Mak almost pounced on their error.
But straight after at the other end, Clyne forced a fine save from the impressive Kozacik once again, this time from a slight angle at close range.
In a see-saw second-half, Vladimir Weiss could’ve slotted past his former Manchester City teammate, but his shot was tame and the England number one was able to fall on it with ease.
Hodgson sends on stars to find a goal
Hodgson sent on his skipper Wayne Rooney for his 114th cap, one behind David Beckham, in a bid to find a goal after 56 minutes for Jack Wilshere. It took a few misguided passes for the Manchester United captain to get his feet working, though.
Dele Alli’s introduction soon followed, as the lively but ineffectual Lallana made way, and the Tottenham starlet almost made an immediate impact arriving at the back post from Henderson’s ball to shoot on target and force a corner.
Sturridge had a fairly quiet game, but could and should have finally found the net with just over 15 minutes of the match to go after being played in over the top by a wonderful Eric Dier pass.
The Liverpool frontman was just unable to get a good enough connection from close range, and that was to be his last notable contribution as Harry Kane soon replaced him.
England will play 2nd place in Group F. But who? We've produced a handy chart to work it all out. pic.twitter.com/0Poj8J5GsS
— Coral (@Coral) June 21, 2016
Things began to get more desperate as England chased a goal to secure top spot in the group, but shots went wayward and the Slovenian defence were too disciplined to penetrate.
The draw means that Wales top the group, with England in the second automatic qualifying spot, while Slovakia have a great chance of making it to the last 16 with four points.