Five key talking points from England vs Slovakia

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England vs Slovakia.

England missed out on top spot in Euro 2016 Group B with a flat 0-0 draw against Slovakia in St Etienne.

While ensuring their place in the first knockout round, it means Roy Hodgson’s side will almost certainly face a trickier draw.

Here, we consider five key issues arising from Stade Geoffroy Guichard.

ROY HODGSON’S GAMBLE COULD GET HIM IN TROUBLE

Word has it Roy Hodgson was persuaded to roll the dice with half a dozen changes by his assistant Gary Neville.

All well and good had they cantered to a 3-0 win, but the disappointment of a Slovakian stalemate will put the manager firmly under the microscope, not his deputy.

He will be accused of putting the cart before the horse, resting his key men instead of giving his all to gain top spot. A tougher potential draw now surely awaits and Hodgson will regret at his leisure.

Roy Hodgson.

Roy Hodgson.

ENGLAND’S DEAD BALL GAME NEEDS RESUSCITATING

Harry Kane was the fall guy in the first two matches – with endless observations that he should not be taking England’s free-kicks and corners.

Wayne Rooney duly stepped in against Wales, to no great effect, and here Ryan Bertrand and Jordan Henderson alternated before Rooney’s reintroduction.

The delivery was average in the most part, sometimes far below that, suggesting no magic solution exists in the ranks. But this cannot be allowed to continue when other teams squeeze every last drop from their dead ball chances.

JACK WILSHERE AND JORDAN HENDERSON AREN’T READY

Hodgson must have been hoping to see two of his favourite midfield operators make full use of their return to the starting XI.

But Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson, who both recovered from injury just in time to make the squad, did not light things up in St Etienne.

Wilshere in particular was a shadow of himself, spraying passes into mystifying areas and failing to bring any tangible impact. England perked up after his 55th minute substitution.

Henderson was brighter and did muster a couple of presentable crosses, but this was not his all-action best and his radar was not always good.

Wayne Rooney comes on for Jack Wilshere against Russia.

Wayne Rooney comes on for Jack Wilshere against Slovakia.

ADAM LALLANA MUST FIND A FINISH

Liverpool’s Adam Lallana may not have been in the starting side for the tournament had Danny Welbeck been fit, but he has done a good job of mirroring the Arsenal man, for good and for ill.

Like Welbeck, Lallana has been tireless off the ball and regularly shuts down surging full-backs.

But the pair share share a lack of finesse in front of goal too. Lallana has not scored in 26 internationals and passed up more good chances here.

Adam Lallana.

Adam Lallana.

ERIC DIER IS A ROCK

However England’s Euro 2016 story ends, Eric Dier will come out of the tournament with his stock at an all-time high.

He performed his nominated anchor role with aplomb, pinged some wonderful passes from the base of midfield and then, as the goal refused to come, pressed himself forward.

He was the calmest head in the final third as England flung themselves into attack, hanging back to collect rebounds and clearances and recycling possession.

Also showed a willingness to strike from range. The 22-year-old is suddenly irreplaceable.

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Del Bosque refuses to punish Pedro

Andy West 21/06/2016
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Critical: Pedro.

Spain head coach Vicente Del Bosque sees no reason to reprimand winger Pedro following his complaints at having to sit on the bench for the national team.

The Chelsea forward has played less than 10 minutes so far in the tournament, his only appearance being as a late substitute in La Roja’s opening 1-0 win over the Czech Republic.

In an interview with Movistar, Pedro claimed “it is not worth me turning up just to be part of the group”.

The versatile forward has always been a firm favourite of Del Bosque thanks to his ability to fill any position across the forward line, winning more than 50 caps since making his debut in 2010. But the emergence of Alvaro Morata and Nolito, who both capped eye-catching performances with goals in the impressive 4-0 victory over Turkey, means Pedro has been clearly relegated to a substitute role.

Although he was obviously keen to ensure Pedro’s unexpected outburst does not disrupt the team’s increasingly convincing challenge to retain their European title, Del Bosque could not hide his frustration at the winger’s complaints.

He said: “I was surprised by what he said. But we have talked and he explained himself. He apologised and told me he doesn’t want to upset anybody. I think his subconscious let him down and now he’s paying for it.

“We are a family, we have created a good atmosphere and this isn’t going to bother us. There is no ill feeling, but you have to understand that we always have 12 players who won’t start. I don’t think it will have a lot of repercussions.”

Pedro used Monday’s press conference to tackle the issues over his comments head on.

The 28-year-old said: “I am not sorry exactly. If you asked me about my future in the national team, I would say the same. I have spoken to Vicente, I have spoken to the players and they understand what I was saying, so I do not really understand while this has happened.

“I am very grateful to be here and be part of this team. I have been here for six years, I am not attacking the manager or other things that have been said.

“I assume the responsibility of what I have said, if I have to say sorry to someone because I haven’t liked it, I will say it. Now the most important thing is to be calm.”

With La Roja already qualified for the knockout stages, Del Bosque is likely to make several changes for Tuesday’s meeting with Croatia.

But Spain still need a point to finish top of the group, and secretive Del Bosque was evasive over his plans as he added: “I don’t know if it’s a good idea to rest players. They get used to playing and resting them can be counter-productive.”

Croatia are likely to be without midfielder Luka Modric and first-choice striker Mario Mandzukic as the pair haven’t trained since Saturday due to knocks.

Coach Ante Cacic hasn’t ruled either out but at the same time doesn’t want to risk his star duo ahead of the knockouts.

Meanwhile, UEFA’s disciplinary committee on Monday fined Croatia €100,000 (Dh415,000) for flares thrown on the pitch by its fans that halted their match against the Czech Republic which finished 2-2.

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What they said: Wales vs Russia

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Delight: Wales' Aaron Ramsay.

Wales secured progression to the Round of 16 of Euro 2016 on Monday night with an emphatic victory over Russia.

The result saw the Welsh leapfrog England to top Group B and progress in their first ever European Championship appearance.

Here, Sport360 rounds-up all the best post-match reaction from the two sides:

Chris Coleman, Wales head coach:

“Our focus was on putting ourselves in a position where we’d have a chance in the last game of making the last 16. When you look at a group with England, Russia and Slovakia you knew it would be tough and it went to the last game; that tells you about the group.

“To progress was fantastic, I’ve got to say how proud I was of my players. They were brave in possession and made a lot of chances, on the back of a crushing defeat by England. We enjoyed tonight. As a nation geographically we are small but if you judge us by passion you could say we were a continent tonight.”

Leonid Slutsky, Russia head coach:

“I’d like to apologise to the Russian supporters for our performances, including tonight’s game. The fans in the stadium or in front of their TVs don’t deserve this level of play.

“I take responsibility as we had time to prepare and find players and if we weren’t able to do that, it really is my mistake. So I’d like to say the following: I don’t want you to focus too much on the individual players but me and my responsibility.

“After a tournament like this you need someone else in charge. We were poor today and we deserved to lose the game. We were bad in every area.”

Aaron Ramsey, Wales’ man of the match:

“It was a fantastic team performance. Against England we perhaps let the occasion get to us when we had possession and that was the main thing that we wanted to do tonight – go out there and play football. We showcased that unbelievably well. Defensively we work hard and we’re a good team that can break the lines, create opportunities and finish them.

“It was a fantastic feeling to score in this competition. We’ve waited a long time to experience what it’s like and to score a goal was a fantastic feeling. It was a great ball from Joe Allen, he saw the run early then I saw the goalkeeper so I lifted it over him and thankfully it went in.”

Gareth Bale, Wales goalscorer:

“Everything was on this game. It was in our own hands and we said before just to go out there, enjoy ourselves, have no regrets.

“The performance was probably the best I’ve been involved in. We said we didn’t just want to come here and make up the numbers. We wanted to put a real effort in and to win the group, we can’t do any more than that. Now we can look forward to who we’ve got next.”

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