Sturridge pounces late to give England famous win over Wales

Substitute Daniel Sturridge prodded home in injury time to hand England a 2-1 comeback win over neighbours Wales in a dramatic end to their Euro 2016 Group B clash on Thursday.

Coach Roy Hodgson's bold decision to throw on Sturridge and fellow goalscorer Jamie Vardy at half-time sent England to the top of the group and broke Welsh hearts.

A long range free-kick from Gareth Bale and a mistake from goalkeeper Joe Hart had given Wales a half-time lead but Vardy, fast becoming a good luck charm for England, levelled from close range on 56 minutes.

Sturridge then netted the late winner at the near post after using his quick feet to great effect, prompting England fans to go wild in the stand behind and leaving Wales players to wince with despair.

"Great feeling, unbelievable, I’m grateful to the opportunity from the gaffer," Sturridge told the BBC.

"It’s great to help the boys win the game."

England now have four points, leaving Wales on three ahead of the final round of group matches as both British nations look to qualify for the last 16.

Wales, in their first ever European Championship, next face Russia on Monday when England play Slovakia.

"Obviously it is massively disappointing but I am very proud of everybody," Bale said.

"We gave everything like we always do and I have said before if we go out but have given 100 per cent then we can't do any more. We are strong inside and the tournament is not over yet."

The game in Lens, played in a British-style stadium under sullen skies reminiscent of the UK, was the 102nd meeting between the sides but the first in a major tournament. England had won their last four meetings, with Wales last victorious back in 1984.

Police were out in force, with a helicopter overhead before the match, after violence between England and Russia fans surrounding their 1-1 draw in Marseille last weekend and trouble mainly involving English supporters in nearby Lille on Wednesday.

But England and Wales fans had been getting on well in the buildup. The Welsh were outnumbered in the near 40,000 capacity ground but arguably made more noise in what was a party atmosphere, with limited segregation.

The first big chance fell for England but Raheem Sterling, jeered by some of his own fans after another frustrating display, shot over after a cross from Adam Lallana.

A Gary Cahill header from a Wayne Rooney free-kick was then easily saved by Wayne Hennessey, who returned in the Wales goal after missing the Slovakia win in their opening game with a back spasm.

Chris Smalling soon nodded just wide following a Rooney corner, with the England captain taking over duties from striker Harry Kane after media criticism.

There were a few feisty tackles with Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli and Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey involved in one memorable confrontation but generally the game was played in a positive spirit, like in the stands.

Bale, the world's most expensive player, had been relatively quiet until his goal but suddenly sent Wales fans into delirium.

Rooney gave away a needless free-kick on 42 minutes and just like against Slovakia, Bale stepped up to score although again the keeper was at fault with Hart getting a hand to the ball but failing to keep it out.

Hodgson brought on Vardy and Sturridge for the lethargic Kane and Sterling at the interval and it had an almost instant impact.

Vardy netted his fourth goal in his last five appearances for England and probably nailed down a starting spot against Slovakia with a typical poacher’s goal.

He initially looked offside but replays showed the ball had come off the head of Wales captain Ashley Williams following a cross by Sturridge.

Hodgson's side then strived to take the lead, but initially lacked the quickness and crispness of passing needed to break down the Wales defence.

They looked to be running out of steam, despite the introduction of Marcus Rashford as a third striker, until Sturridge popped up with a goal England fans will remember for a long time.

Last update: Thu, 16/06/2016 - 17:47

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