For the second game in a row England’s result was determined by an injury-time goal, but this time it was England who benefitted as Daniel Sturridge scored to help them secure a 2-1 comeback victory over Wales.
Wales showed three changes from their opening win against Russia, with Wayne Hennessey, Joe Ledley and Hal Robson-Kanu replacing Danny Ward, David Edwards and Jonny Williams, whilst England were unchanged from their disappointing draw with Russia.
England began the game brightly and started in the ascendancy, with Harry Kane using his physicality to release Adam Lallana after just 7 minutes and he was unlucky to see his centre put over the bar by Raheem Sterling, who was under pressure to perform after a poor performance against Russia.
Other than a header from Chris Smalling, England did not create any notable chances and despite their 70% possession, they were unable to really pressure the Welsh defence. The biggest failing of England in the first half was a lack of speed in their build-up play, meaning that Wales were able to retain a solid shape and limit the effectiveness of their front three.
England’s lack of creativity came back to bite them just before half-time as Gareth Bale score a 35 yard free-kick for the second time in two games at this European Championship. However, much as in the Slovakia game, questions must be asked of Joe Hart, who failed to keep the ball out despite getting two hands to the ball.
England went in behind at the break in a game where Wales had been poor and Bale had basically been a non-factor before his free-kick.
Roy Hodgson went bold with his changes at half-time and brought on Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge for the ineffective Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling. These changes immediately brought some more dynamism into the England play and saw Chris Coleman’s men retreat even further back into their own half.
Wayne Rooney, excellent on the day, drew a save from Wayne Hennessey after 54 minutes, resulting in a corner. The corner was easily dealt with by the Welsh defence but just two minutes later England drew level through Jamie Vardy, who was clinical from 2 yards out.
Hodgson made his final substitution with 18 minutes to go, bringing on Marcus Rashford (who became the youngest ever England player at the Euros, breaking Rooney’s record by four days) for Adam Lallana. He looked carefree after coming on but England still could not find that elusive second goal that would have beaten a Welsh team who lacked ideas.
England were to secure a goal though in the second minute of added on time and break Welsh hearts and it was the other half-time substitute, Daniel Sturridge, who bagged it. He picked up the ball on the edge of the area and passed to Vardy, who flicked it onto Dele Alli, who then managed to get it to Sturridge who finished beautifully at the near post to send the England fans wild.
England now top Group A and face Slovakia on Monday evening knowing that a win guarantees safe passage through, whilst Wales will now have to pick themselves up and go again against Russia, with that game key in determining the final make-up of the group table.