By Andy Hyslop
- Wayne Rooney and Chris Smalling both start for England
- Marcus Rashford among substitutes
Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and Chris Smalling both started for England as they were denied three points after a last-gasp equaliser from Russia.
Rooney led his country out for their first group game in Euro 2016. The United and England captain was deployed in a midfield role similar to the one that he played for United in the last month of the season.
Smalling was selected at the centre of the England defence alongside Chelsea’s Gary Cahill. England manager Hodgson opted for a 4-3-3 formation with Harry Kane selected ahead of Jamie Vardy in attack.
England dominated the first-half but couldn’t find the opening goal in the first 45 minutes. The best chances fell to Adam Lallana but the Liverpool man could only shoot straight at Russia keeper Igor Akinfeev.
While Rooney saw a volley from just outside the area saved by Akinfeev. Rooney received a pass from Dele Alli, controlling the ball then volleying at goal.
Despite being on top in the first-half, England couldn’t find that goal and you had to feel that the Russians would improve in the second-half.
And that they did, Russia started the half the better before England through Rooney started to take control of the game again.
A good move from England saw the ball come to Rooney on the edge of the area and the United hit a low effort that look destined for the bottom corner only for Akinfeev to deny England and Rooney again.
England finally got the breakthrough on 73 minutes through the unlikely source of Eric Dier. Rooney found Alli on the edge of the area and England were awarded a free-kick 20 yards from goal when Alli’s run was blocked off.
Alli’s Tottenham team-mates Kane and Dier stood over the free-kick. Kane had taken the majority of set-pieces but he made a dummy run leaving Dier to strike the free-kick past Akinfeev.
Minutes after the goal, Rooney was withdrawn by Hodgson, replacing him with Arsenal man Wilshere. After the goal Russia became more adventurous and got their reward in the dying minutes.
The equaliser came two minutes into four minutes of stoppage when Berezutski soared above Danny Rose and head over a advancing Joe Hart.
Despite question marks over playing Rooney in midfield, the United man put in a man of the match performance and his substitution has been pinpointed by many as the turning point in the game.
England sit second in the group by Wales, who earlier in the day beat Slovakia 2-1 in their first appearance in a major finals in 58 years.
England and Wales will face each other in their second group game on Thursday, kicking off at 14:00 BST.