Euro 2016: England Finish Second As Hodgson’s Gamble Fails To Pay Off In Slovakia Stalemate
Matus Kozacik’s heroics forced England to settle for the second spot in Group B as they were held by Slovakia to a goalless draw in their final Euro 2016 group stage fixture at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard on Monday.
They came. They played. But they couldn’t conquer. Yet they won hearts. England never wins hearts. They might be the three lions but they are never lion hearts. But not this England.
This generation, They are a fearless bunch. They will back flick, they will do the dribble, they will tighten the screws on the opposition, they will be relentless, throwing wave after wave of creative moves, from the middle and the flanks.
England dominated possession and pushed the tempo right from the kick-off. The English side had 27 attempts on goal but they lacked the finishing on the final ball and were unlucky in a couple of occasions.
In the 17th minute, a spectacular through ball from Henderson picked Jamie Vardy, who used his pace and rushed behind the defense before thumping a shot towards goal, but the England striker’s effort was straight into the midriff of the onrushing Slovakia goalkeeper Matus Kozacik.
On 33 minutes, Adam Lallana played a sideway pass to pick Liverpool forward Daniel Sturridge a few yards outside the Slovakia penalty area. Sturridge launched a venomous strike but his left footed shot from outside the box was blocked.
A minute later Adam Lallana had the chance to open the account for England but his right footed shot from the centre of the box was saved by Matus Kozacik.
England clearly dominated in the first half and such was the story in the second half too as they repeatedly set up chances down the flanks. Dier controlled the action in the centre with Henderson and Clyne taking the charge down the flanks. Slovakia had everyone behind the ball when England desperately looked for space inside the box, which made it even harder for Hodgson’s side to pick out the required final ball.
In the 53rd minute a perfect through ball from Sturridge picked Nathaniel Clyne, whose right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right was saved at the bottom right corner.
England substitute Dele Alli twisted his body cleverly at the back post to direct a shot on target in the 61st munite, but Slovakia captain Martin Skrtel hacked the ball off the line.
Slovakia lost a good chance in the 54th minute when Vladimir Weiss cut inside on to his right foot in the box but he didn’t quite catch his shot and Hart made a comfortable save.
Slovakia aimed for a draw and played deep down with more men behind the ball to restrict space inside the box throughout the entire second half.
England kept on searching for the opener and couldn’t couldn’t capitalise upon a golden opportunity in the 73rd minute. Sturridge positioned himself behind the defense Eric Dier whipped in a lofted pass to find Sturridge cutting past the defense. Sturridge threw his foot forward to meet the ball which only needed a tap to fing the net, but the Liverpool forward failed to get the decisive touch and Kozacik pounced in to collect the ball.
Rooney was brought in to replace Wilshere in the 56th minute and the crowd got on their feet to applaud. The England captain had a chance to put ahead England in the 83rd minute but his left footed shot from outside the box
just missed to the right.
England sealed a spot in the last 16 of EURO 2016 and will play against the team which will land up second in Group F.
Slovakia finished third in the group and will hope to make it to the round of 16 as one of four best third-place teams.