They left it late, but England secured their first win of Euro 2016 against Wales on Thursday afternoon. Despite dominating for the vast majority of the first half, England found themselves behind at half-time due to a long range Gareth Bale free-kick. The two half-time substitutes Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge proved to be crucial, with both netting in the second half to give England a 2-1 win.
Here are some of the conclusions reached immediately after the ninety minutes:
Kane Has A Point To Prove
Following the latest Premier League season, Harry Kane was the most in-form striker going. So far this tournament, however, he was been largely disappointing. Against Russia, Kane failed to touch the ball in the opponent’s penalty area. Despite being taken off corner duty this time around, he was still given the opportunity to take a free kick against Wales but again failed to deliver.
With Hodgson bringing on Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge at half-time and both going on to score a goal a piece, the pressure will now be on Kane. Everyone knows what Kane is capable of but thus far he has not showed it. If he is to be picked in the starting eleven against Slovakia, you would imagine that it would be with a striking partner alongside him. If the Wales game has shown anything, however, it is that the England manager is not afraid to make use of his five strikers if need be.
Sterling Should Be Dropped
Raheem Sterling has to be the most frustrating player in the England squad. Despite having the potential to be one of the most promising youngsters in the team, he continued to struggle in England’s second game of the group stage.
On too many occasions over the last two games Sterling hasn’t looked confident, been edged off the ball too easily and offered very little threat going forward. When offered a goal on a plate, together with the opportunity to get England fans off his back for a while, he failed to convert. The Manchester City midfielder is clearly not full of confidence at the moment and I would not be surprised to see him dropped for the next game.
Hodgson Is Capable Of Getting It Right
After England’s draw against Russia, Roy Hodgson’s tactics came under fire. In the attempt to hold onto a 1-0 lead, he took off Wayne Rooney who was arguably the strongest player up until that point. Hodgson also only made two substitutions and England went on to lose the game late on.
This time around, however, Hodgson’s tactics were spot on. The decision to bring on Sturridge and Vardy at half-time was bold but was required and clearly the right one to make. It was also brave of him to bring on Marcus Rashford but it is good to see that Hodgson is willing to make attacking changes if the situation requires it. There will be times that his decisions do not work out so well, but on this occasion he should be applauded.
Rashford Unfazed By First Team Action
Marcus Rashford continued to make history when he became England’s youngest ever player at a European Championship during the 2-1 win. The eighteen year old replaced Adam Lallana in the 73rd minute and looked at ease throughout his cameo.
While people will have argued prior to the tournament that he was too young to be included, Rashford showed a calm, composed nature beyond his years and experience when he made his appearance. It is still early days in his career, but Rashford is certainly showing that he has the confidence to prove himself at this level.