Euro 2016 | Day 2: Talking points as England settle for draw; Switzerland, Wales emerge victorious

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Euro 2016 | Day 2: Talking points as England settle for draw; Switzerland, Wales emerge victorious

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Arun S Kaimal

06/12/2016

A stoppage-time goal from Vasili Berezutski helped Russia snatch a draw against England in a Group B match of the Euro 2016 on Saturday. In the same group, Hal Robson-Kanu came off the bench to score a winner for Wales against Slovakia, while Switzerland defeated Albania in Group A.

1. Albania 0-1 Switzerland

The match of the brothers

The first match of the day was a battle between the brothers-Switzerland’s Granit Xhaka and Albania’s Taulant Xhaka lined up against each other at Lens, while their mother wore a half-and-half shirt in the stands supporting both the teams. Both players also made history to become the first brothers to play in opposite sides in the European Championships. After ninety minutes of play, Granit Xhaka’s Switzerland emerged the winner thanks to a fifth-minute goal from Fabian Schar. The Swiss controlled the play for the majority of the match, but missed crucial chances in front of the goal to allow a ten-man Albania, who lost captain Lorik Cana in the first-half after he picked up two yellow cards, to threaten them till the end of the match.

2. Wales 2-1 Slovakia

58-year wait celebrated with a victory

Chris Coleman’s Wales side waited 58 years to make an appearance in a major international tournament, and they celebrated the special day with a memorable win over Slovakia. Gareth Bale, who scored 7 goals and made 2 assists in the qualifying round, was predicted to power Wales with goals in the tournament, and the Real Madrid man rose to the occasion by putting the team in the lead in the tenth minute through a free-kick. The Red Dragons dominated much of the ball in the first-half and looked the team to beat before the break. But, two substitutes made the match more dramatic in the second half. Slovakia’s Ondrej Duda was the first to change the match as he put one past Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward in the 61st minute, just 52 seconds after coming on as substitute. The goal came totally against the run of the play, but once again, another substitute became the star of the match. Hal Robson-Kanu came off the bench and headed the ball into the back of the net, ten minutes from time to win the game for Wales. Next up for Bale and co is a juicy battle – it's the neighbours England. 

3. England 1-1 Russia

Vasili Berezutski breaks England hearts

Indian captain Suni Chhetri, who was in the broadcaster's studio before the match began, predicted that his former Portuguese club mate “Eric Dier will score a freekick goal” for England. He would get it exactly right on the night.

England started wonderfully dominating possession with Dele Alli and Wayne Rooney stitching together brilliant chances, but the finish was lacking with Harry Kane at the front having an off day and surprisingly taking England's corners (quite badly)!. England were so dominant, it was a surprise that the match ended goalless after the first half.

England finally got their breakthrough in the 73rd minute. Kane and Dier lined up to take the free-kick just outside the box. Kane ran past the ball, and Dier casually moved ahead to whip it into the top-left corner of the net. England up by 1.

But England's hopes received a late blow when, in the 90th minute, Georgi Shchennikov sent a ball in the air towards the back post. Russian captain Berezutski, waiting in anticipation, jumped above Tottenham Hotspur and England full-back Danny Rose and headed the ball beyond Joe Hart into the far corner of the net. Heartbreak for England as the match ended 1-1 as they squander a domineering display to lose two points at the death. 

A disappointed Dier said, “We’re very disappointed. We played well the whole game and then to give away the draw like that at the end is very disappointing. It’s not inexperience we didn’t see it out in the right way. We didn’t lose.”

The exciting night, however, had its ugly moment when the Russian fans stormed the England section to assault the English fans at the end of the game. Poor segregation of fans and lack of foresight by the authorities were to blame, but football hooliganism just rears its ugly head year after year right when you thought times are moving towards the better.

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