In Review

Iceland 2 England 1: The 'worst result in English history'

Hodgson and his squad should be ashamed, but Iceland deserve praise for showing the meaning of teamwork

20 June

England 0 Slovakia 0

England were forced to settle for second place in Group B at Euro 2016 after a worryingly toothless display against Slovakia who held out for a 0-0 draw in Saint-Etienne.

Roy Hodgson made six changes to the team that started against Wales and Russia but England were soon on top, with Jamie Vardy and Adam Lallana both testing goalkeeper Matus Kozacik in the first half.

The game was similar to England's clash with Russia as the Three Lions dominated possession but failed to make it count.

Roy Hodgson shuffled his pack in the second half as Wayne Rooney and Dele Alli replaced the disappointing Jack Wilshere and the industrious Lallana, but still England could not find the breakthrough, despite more second-half chances.

Nathaniel Clyne almost found the net as he got behind the Slovakia defence, but it was perhaps the only time in the second half that England managed it and his shot hit Kozacik.

Alli nearly made an immediate impression as his first touch, a side-footed volley from a Clyne corner, was cleared off the line by Martin Skrtel, who was immense at the back. And the last clear cut chance fell to Daniel Sturridge who failed to connect with a dink over the top of the Slovakia defence from Eric Dier.

Aside from those chances England were denied by a series of blocks and headers in the Slovakian box and even the introduction of Harry Kane for Sturridge failed to make a difference on an immensely frustrating night on which England's attack lacked the all-important x-factor.

Defender Gary Cahill summed up the frustrations afterwards. "We tried time and time again but they shut the door in our face. We are disappointed because we dominated the possession. We had the ball constantly but we didn't have the cutting edge to open them up," he said. "In games like that sometimes you need something a little bit special but it wasn't to be."

Roy Hodgson tried to put a positive spin on the result and declared that he was "not scared" of any other team in the competition, but there was a sense of deja vu reminscent of other tournaments about England's inability to secure a win.

Ever the provocateur, Joey Barton was quick to point out that although England have dominated all three games they have played they are lucky to have finished second in the group.

England's next game, as runners up in Group B, will be against the second-placed team in Group F. The final games in that group take place on Wednesday at 5pm, and the runners up could be any of the four teams. England fans will be praying that Portugal beat Hungary handsomely so that they do not end up facing Ronaldo in the last 16. 

A match against Iceland or Hungary, though, offers the prospect of another frustrating night for England fans.

Whoever they face Hodgson's men will next be in action on Monday next week at 8pm.

FULL TIME - England 0 Slovakia 0: England have finished second in Group B after failing to score against Slovakia... has there ever been a more frustrating game for England, who brought five strikers to France but could not break down a Slovakia side who showed absolutely no ambition?

Almost the entire second half was spent in the Slovakian half but England carved out no more than a handful of chances, the best of which fell to full back Nathaniel Clyne.

93 mins: It's relentless from England but it's not good enough. Clyne fires in a cross but Kane is outnumbered in the middle. Dier shoots from the edge of the box and, guess what, it's blocked.

Alli resorts to a long rage effort. It's not blocked but that's because it is way too high.

90 mins: Another England attack another shot blocked by Skrtel on the esdge of the box but this time the Liverpool man is injured. He may have pulled his groin. There will be five added minutes.

85 mins: Slovakia's free kick is near the half way line, but Hamsik shoots. Hart watches it fly over his goal.

Then it's business as usual as England pile forward, win a corner and watch Skrtel win the header. The next ball in is punched onto the head of Harry Kane and flies out for a goal kick.

80 mins: Another corner, another clearance from Slovakia and then another England ball into the box goes out for a goal kick. It's getting frustrating, even more so than against Russia. 

All, and I mean all, the play is around the Slovakia box but England just can't break through. They finally get into the box but there's no chance of a clean shot. The corner is cleared.

TV replays suggest a handball by Slovakia in the box, but it went unnoticed. Finally the ball is in the England half as Slovakia win a free kick and there is a long delay for an injury to winger Mak.

75 mins: Rooney comes through the middle and his shot is blocked by Skrtel. The Slovkia defence must be black and blue from all their blocks.

Daniel Sturridge makes way for Harry Kane. A last roll of the dice for England? He almost gets his head to a corner. At least he wasn't taking it.

England have the fabled front three of Vardy, Rooney and Kane. It didn't work against Portugal, but it needs to work now.

70 mins: It's still all England but still no breakthrough despite the possession. A Dier cross/shot flies wide of the goal and Wayne Rooney's foot, and then a Daniel Sturridge back heel in the box fails to come off.

Norbert Gyomber is on for Slovakia.

Eric Dier is down injured as Harry Kane warms up on the England bench. With Wales 3-0 up only a win will do for England. But Dier can't be that badly injured as he lifts a wonderful ball into the box but Sturridge can't get a touch when any kind of contact would surely have been enough.

65 mins: It's all England once again and Alli appeals for a free kick on the edge of the box but it's waved away. Can England find the breakthrough? The nerves are starting to fray although the fans remain in good voice.

60 mins: Another change for England. Its Dele Alli on for Adam Lallana and his first touch is almost the opening goal as Skrtel clears off the line. What an introduction that would have been!

58 mins: Here comes Wayne Rooney, who replaced the disappointing Jack Wilshere. The Man United man gets a great reception, but suddenly England are looking shaky at the back and Weiss forces Hart into another save after the ball ricochets to him off Gary Cahill.

Dusan Svento comes on for Slovakia, replacing Ondrej Duda.

53 mins: Slovakia show some early intent but England see them off, and almost exploit the space as Clynde bursts through the middle. Slovakia must know that Wales are 2-0 up against Russia and need something from the game. Can England exploit the space they leave behind?

Bertrand, who was lucky to escape a booking in the first half picks up a booking as Slovakia win a free kick in a dangerous position, their first of the match, and Joe Hart punches clear. But there is almost a disaster moments later as Smalling tries to chest the ball back to Hart but has his pocket picked by Mak eight yards out, but his effort is scuffed.

England react well and Clyne bursts into the box and forces a fine save from Kozacik. Game on!

45 mins: The second half is underway in Saint Etienne - can England break Slovakia down? No half time substitutions from Roy Hodgson.

HALF TIME - England 0 Slovakia 0: For the third game running at Euro 2016 England dominated the first half but failed to make their superiortiy count, this time against Slovakia.

Roy Hodgson's side, featuring six changes from the one that started against Russia and Wales, took a while to get into their stride but once they did so took control of the game.

Daniel Sturridge had the first clear chance of the match after some head tennis in the box, but his shot was blocked. Next it was the turn of Jamie Vardy who raced onto a ball over the top from Jordan Henderson, but could not beat keeper Matus Kozacik after burning off Martin Skrtel.

Adam Lallana was the next to test Kozacik with a powerful volley from the edge of the box, and finally Henderson had a similar chance, that struck defender Jan Durica on its way towards the goal.

Most of England's threat has come down the right, where Nathanial Clyne has been impressive. However, the Three Lions have lacked the killer touch, and have been let down by some sloppy play in the last third, with Jack Wilshere guilty of giving the ball away.

Slovakia offered little, but England will be wary after their disappointment against Russia. And there may be concerns over the fitness of Gary Cahill who needed treatment on a back problem in the first half.

To add to the pressure, Wales are on top against Russia, meaning England need to win to top the group.

45 mins: A Henderson volley from the edge of the box almost decapitates a Slovakia defender as another England attack comes to nought. The crowd are getting restless. England have yet to score a first half goal in the tournament despite dominating all three games.

40 mins: A raking ball from Dier finds Sturridge in the box and it earns England another corner and suddenly Sturridge has come to life, but he can't weave his way through the Slovakia defence.

Bertrand is dispossessed by Mak and it leads to an all too rare period of Slovakian pressure, but England regroup and normal service is soon resumed with England camped in the opposition half.

England are dominating the ball but they are struggling to find the killer ball, with Wilshere in particular guilty of wasting possession.

30 mins: After a period of stalemate the Liverpool trio of Sturridge, Henderson and Clyne combine down the right to win a corner, but once again it's cleared. And Henderson and Clyne combine well again a minute later and some nervous goalkeeping gives England a throw in.

Adam Lallana then has a glorious opportunity after yet another break down the right. He latches onto Clyne's cutback but the powerful shot was straight at the keeper.

England get a warning as Slovakia break, but Mak's dangerous ball into the box is well intercepted by the fit-again Cahill. Immediately England break with Vardy on the charge but he is brought down by Pecovsky. who is booked.

22 mins:  There are players down on both sides. Pekarik is bleeding after an aerial challenge with Bertrand, while worryingly for England Gary Cahill needs treatment on what looks like a back problem.

Just before that Jamie Vardy missed the best chance of the game so far as he raced through onto a ball from Henderson, leaving Skrtel trailing in his wake. He has the goal at his mercy but his shot is well blocked by the Kozacik, who chose to stay on his line rather than come for the ball.

Before that Wilshere and Lallana combine nicely down the left and the cross falls to Henderson on the other side of the box, but his shot is blocked behind. Ryan Bertrand is on corner duties, but Slovakia clear.

15 mins: England's first genuine chance after some head tennis in the box. Henderson's cross is blocked, but Lallana heads it on to Vardy who nods it further into the box to Sturridge whose shot is blocked by Pekarik before goalkeeper Kozacik mops up.

Next up Lallana tries to play Vardy in but not even the Leicester man has the pace to reach the pass into the box. The next move leads to a shot from Lallana on the edge of the box, but it's dragged wide. England are once again on top.

But Slovakia have given England a warning with a wonderful ball from Hamsik through the middle, but the danger is cleared by Smalling. The same player then breaks down the left and whips in an excellent cross, but there is no-one on the end of it.

5 mins: Several early fouls from the referee so far as both teams try to get on the front foot early on. England are looking bright, but Slovakia look to be playing a pressing game in midfield.

England's first chance comes from a run down the right by Clyne, and his cross is met by Vardy outside the near post but he somehow turns it goalwards with his knee. Not a bad effort, but over.

We're off: The anthems are well observed by both sets of fans and we are underway in Saint-Etienne. England are in red... with blue socks.

England vs Slovakia LIVE: Six changes with Wilshere, Sturridge, Vardy all in

As was widely predicted England have made six changes for their final Group B match against Slovakia in Saint-Etienne tonight.

Skipper Wayne Rooney is rested for the clash, and the strike partnership of Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy, who rescued England against Wales, are retained with the sluggish Harry Kane and misfiring Raheem Sterling left out of the side.

Rooney and Dele Alli are replaced by Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson in midfield, and the tireless Spurs full backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose get the night off, with Nathanial Clyne and Ryan Bertrand stepping in.

Early reports suggest that there will be a front three with Sturridge and Adam Lallana on the wings and Vardy through the middle.

There has been criticism of Hodgson's decision but the England manager is having none of it. "I do not think it is a gamble," he says. "I fully believe in these players, this is not a risk. We need to give players a taste of the tournament if we need them later."

However, with England not yet guaranteed a place in the last 16 some experts remain unconvinced. Lee Dixon says it is "imperative" for England to top their group and adds: "In my experience, you want to keep a back fourtogether, the longer you play together the better you understand each other."

Slovakia are unchanged from their win over Russia. Marek Hamsik is the danger man, and Premier League fans will be familiar with Liverpool centre back Martin Skrtel.

Teams: 

Slovakia: Kozacik, Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Hubocan, Kucka, Pecovsky, Hamsik, Mak, Duda, Weiss. Subs: Mucha, Gyomber, Gregus, Sestak, Stoch, Nemec, Hrosovsky, Skriniar, Salata, Svento, Duris, Novota.

England: Hart, Clyne, Cahill, Smalling, Bertrand, Henderson, Dier, Wilshere, Lallana, Vardy, Sturridge. Subs: Forster, Walker, Rose, Milner, Sterling, Kane, Rooney, Stones, Barkley, Alli, Rashford, Heaton.

Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain)

England v Slovakia: Rooney out as Hodgson makes six changes

20 June

England manager Roy Hodgson is to drop Wayne Rooney and make up to six changes to his team for tonight's Euro 2016 clash with Slovakia in Saint-Etienne.

The Three Lions need a win to secure top spot in Group B, but the manager is poised to wield the axe as he "looks to refresh his team ahead of the knockout stages", says the Daily Mail.

In addition to resting Rooney, who will be replaced by Jack Wilshere, Hodgson will sit out striker Harry Kane and winger Raheem Sterling in favour of goalscorers Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge, just as they were at half-time against Wales.

Dele Alli will be replaced by Jordan Henderson in midfield, while Ryan Bertrand and Nathaniel Clyne stand in for full-backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker, who ran themselves into the ground in the first two games.

The main question about the team appears to be whether Surridge and Vardy will play with Adam Lallana in a front three or line up as a strike duo in front of a midield diamond, most likely with Wilshere at the apex.

But whatever formation Hodgson chooses, "the changes represent a big risk with qualification still not fully confirmed and England at risk of being handed a difficult last-16 draw if they do not beat Solvakia", reports the Daily Telegraph.

Dropping Rooney is the biggest risk, agrees Dominic Fifield in The Guardian. "The combined caps of the players in midfield and attack on Monday night will be 120, only a handful more than the 113 boasted by Rooney alone," he adds.

Hodgson's decision comes against the backdrop of a warning from FA chairman Greg Dyke, who said England would have to "play well" at Euro 2016 to secure the manager a contract extension. He also hinted that only a semi-final spot would be enough.

Those comments "angered" the England coach, says Henry Winter of The Times, who says the squad is fully behind the manager. However, concerns over his own future have not stopped Hodgson's "bold" team selection, although the danger is that it could be interpreted as arrogance by Slovakia.

"If his side secure the result required to gain their preferred round-of-16 berth against a third-placed team at Parc des Princes on Saturday, Hodgson's gamble will be praised as a masterstroke," says Winter. "If the resting of such an experienced international who can guide the younger players backfires, and Wales or even Slovakia claim top spot, Hodgson will be assailed with some brutal headlines."

England vs Slovakia: Sturridge and Vardy in, Kane and Sterling out

17 June

England dramatic last-gasp triumph against Wales on Thursday has left Roy Hodgson with several key decisions to make before the team face Slovakia on Monday.

The manager's uncharacteristic gamble, bringing on two strikers at half-time, changed the match and took the Three Lions to the top of Group B.

"Hodgson would not be the first England manager to start a tournament with one team and make up another on the move," says Matt Dickinson of The Times.

"In his mind, this was an act of bomb defusal done with steady hands, a cool nerve. But some of us could see the beads of sweat on his brow."

It paid off. Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge scored to rescue England from a 1-0 deficit at the break, while third substitute Marcus Rashford also made a contribution.

"Circumstances had demanded boldness but surely here was confirmation that England are best as a front-foot side, not throwing on James Milner to protect a lead as they had against Russia," argues Dickinson.

"What has most certainly been left behind is any debate about whether Hodgson was right to bring five forwards."

So how does the coach adapt his side?

"Daniel Sturridge must get the nod against Slovakia after his game-changing performance in the second half against Wales, while Jamie Vardy made his case with the crucial equaliser," says the Daily Telegraph. "The fall guy looks to be Harry Kane, who will likely be relegated to the bench after a couple of tired-looking performances."

Sturridge seems destined to replace the inconsistent Raheem Sterling in the next game. He is the most natural goalscorer in the squad and has been "excellent in training", reports the Daily Mail.

"As a natural left-footer, he is also comfortable coming in from the left, which would be the logical side to start him from in a 4-3-3... An alternative system would be for England to pair Sturridge and Vardy ahead of a diamond."

Either way, it leaves Vardy in competition with Kane for a starting berth and the Leicester man has the upper hand. "He is the fastest striker in the squad and, clearly, a brilliant finisher. He is not as well-rounded in his play as Kane, or as unpredictable as Sturridge, but he is looking sharper than Kane and warrants a place in the attack," says the Mail.

But a front two of Vardy and Sturridge could precipitate another change, says The Times, with "Jack Wilshere coming into a midfield diamond alongside Wayne Rooney and the two young Spurs, Dele Alli... and Eric Dier".

That would be bad luck for Adam Lallana, who has looked sharp and worked hard without garnering much praise in England's first two games.

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