The headlines leading up to the game told the story of an epic clash 5 years in the making, and the game thankfully didn’t disappoint. That said, it was really a tale of two halves.
The first half, unfortunately, wasn’t anything to write home about. It was slow, fragmented, and not very exciting. Even the goal that Gareth Bale scored wasn’t that awe-inspiring. The biggest talking point from the goal actually was how Joe Hart messed up. It was a 35-yard free kick that normally would have been easily saved. However, either the ball swerved a bit or Hart simply misjudged it because it turned into a goal.
Also, it seemed like the English side simply lacked motivation in the first half. They were slow and fractured in the areas of ball distribution and pushing forward into the attacking third. Meanwhile, Wales played with more livelihood, dictating the game and playing at a slower pace that was more suited to them.
But in the second half, the momentum switched thanks to a double-substitution by English manager Roy Hodgson. He brought on Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge for Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling. In retrospect, this couldn’t have been a better strategy. Kane played an uninspiring first half and Sterling looked pretty lost. The benefits of bringing on two subs were immediately apparent, as the pace of the game picked up with the English dictating play.
Vardy ended up scoring to tie the game up but the big moment was when Daniel Sturridge put in a goal to win the game in the 92nd minute! Obviously, the first two subs really paid off, as they accounted for both of England’s goals.
Here was the scene at the fan zone in Lille as Sturridge scoured the game-winner:
The downside to this match is that Wales still lost to England, so they will simply have to wait a little longer to gain a precious victory over their perennial rivals.
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