Wales finish top as England fire blanks
THE DAY REPLAYED -Wales capped off a memorable UEFA EURO 2016 group stage campaign by brushing Russia aside 3-0 to finish top of Group B, eliminating their opponents in the process. The Welsh leapfrogged neighbours England in the table after Roy Hodgson’s side were unable to find a way past a dogged Slovakian defence in a 0-0 draw.
The day’s resultsRussia 0-3 Wales Slovakia 0-0 England
The analysisChris Coleman’s men kicked off in Toulouse knowing a draw would be enough to take them through to the knockout stages but the Welsh mindset was anything but negative. They went for the Russians right from the off and deservedly took the lead in the 11th minute when Aaron Ramsey ran clear before coolly chipping the ball over Igor Akinfeev. The Russian keeper was exposed again in the 20th minute. He managed to keep out Neil Taylor’s first shot, only for the left-back to convert the rebound and double his side’s lead. Gareth Bale rounded off the scoring in the 67th minute, calmly slotting the ball home with the outside of his foot after being played in by Ramsey. Russia only managed two shots on goal all night and bowed out meekly.
While Wales were having fun in Toulouse, England were being frustrated by Slovakia in Saint-Etienne. The Three Lions had the lion’s share of possession but came up frustratingly short in the final third against a packed rearguard. Slovakia keeper Matus Kozacik did well to keep out Nathaniel Clyne's shot from close range in the 53rd minute and Martin Skrtel did brilliantly to deviate a goalbound Dele Alli effort over his own bar on 61 minutes. The draw means Slovakia have four points and are well placed to qualify as one of the four best third-placed teams to progress.
Highlight of the dayConstantly on the move and a huge threat when running with the ball at pace, Gareth Bale was a thorn in the side of the Russian defence all evening long. The Real Madrid man is bang on form in France, top scorer in the competition so far on three goals and only the seventh man in EURO history to find the net in all his side’s group matches.
The stat14– No less than half of the 28 games to have been played so far at UEFA EURO 2016 have been goalless at half-time. That mark has only been bettered at EURO 1996, where 16 games over the whole competition remained 0-0 at the break
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Next matchday*Group C *Northern Ireland - Germany (18:00) Ukraine - Poland (18:00)
Group D Croatia - Spain (21:00) Czech Republic - Turkey (21:00)
The winners of UEFA EURO 2016 go on to represent Europe at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017