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Euro 2016: Russia and crowd violence ruin England's night

11 June

England were denied a deserved victory in their opening game of Euro 2016 after dominating Russia only to concede a soft injury time equaliser in Marseille. And the mood was dampened further by reports of fighting in the stadium after the final whistle.

Roy Hodgson picked an attacking team with Dele Alli and Wayne Rooney in midfield, but it was Eric Dier, the man providing cover behind them, who made the breakthrough after 73 minutes.

His free kick finally got the better of Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, who seconds earlier had pulled off an astonishing save to thwart Rooney. But at 1-0 England were still vulnerable and they were made to pay for not converting their chances earlier in the game as Russia equalised in injury time.

A hopeful ball into the box was met by Vasili Berezutski and his looping header sailed over Joe Hart and ended up in the net, with Denis Glushakov claiming the final touch.

Until then it had been a positive night for England, who were totally dominant in the first half, with Dele Alli looking particularly threatening. But once the disappointment has worn off England will be able to take many positives from the game after a display of rare vibrancy and attacking intent.

Playing Rooney in midfield behind Alli paid off and Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana caused problems down the flanks, although both were guilty of failing to deliver the killer ball. Full backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker also impressed and England had little cause for concern until the final moment of the match.

To make matters worse there were clashes inside the stadium after the final whistle. England fans had been involved in three days of violence prior to the match, and there was more trouble in the Stade Velodrome.

The atmosphere had been good during the game, says Mark Chapman of the BBC, "until about five minutes to go - at which point two flares were set alight in the Russian end. It then looked like a firework was launched from that end into the night sky and the mood in the stadium then notably changed."

There was more trouble after the final whistle. "England fans were charged by large sections of the Russian support, with video footage showing how many clambered over seats and stanchions to escape the stadium," reports The Independent.

FULL TIME: England 1 Russia 1. 

England players sink to the turf as the final whistle goes seconds after Russia's equaliser. It has been a fine display from England but all their hard work has been undone by a fluke of a header from a hopeful ball into the box.

But it could have been worse, as Joe Hart has a rush of blood and is dispossessed outside the box, but recovers.

GOAL - England 1 Russia 1 - Denis Glushakov equalises. Nightmare for England as Joe Hart is beaten by a looping header from Vasili Berezutski that somehow ends up in the back of the net, with Glushakov claiming the final touch. Russia have a totally undeserved equaliser in injury time.

85 mins:  Jack Wilshere has been enjoying himself since coming on, and some Arsenal-esque passing on the edge of the box almost pays off, but Harry Kane is offside before Raheem Sterling finishes the move.

Kane also fires a free kick over the bar from 30 yards. Russia come forward but leave themselves exposed and Sterling piles forward, but there is little support and he fails to hold the ball up.

Sterling then comes off to be replaced by James Milner as England aim to close out the game.

GOAL - England 1 Russia 0: Eric Dier scores. Dele Alli wins a free kick in the D on the edge of the box. Harry Kane dummies and leaves it to Eric Dier whose shot rockets a brilliant shot into the top left-hand corner of the goal. England finally have a deserved lead.

And with the score at 1-0 Roy Hogson goes to the bench, as Jack Wilshere replaces Wayne Rooney in the England midfield.

What a save: Moment of the match so far as Igor Akinfeev pulls off a sensational save from Wayne Rooney. The England skipper picked up the ball on the edge of the box and picked his spot, but Akinfeev got down to his right and somehow put the ball onto the bar. It was reminiscent of Gordon Banks's famous save from Pele.

Unbelievably, Adam Lallana hits the post with the rebound, but is flagged offside.

70 mins: This is now a much more even contest, although England are still shading it on points even if the chances have started to dry up. Wayne Rooney almost feeds Dele Alli with a ball over the top but it is just too heavy.

Rahem Sterling has been finding space to run at the Russian defence but has been unable to deliver a final ball.

Russia are going long and almost broke the deadlock through Fedor Smolov who shot just wide from the edge of the box with Joe Hart beaten. The chance came from a long ball knocked down by Artem Dzyuba, and it had England hearts in mouths.

Meanhile, Gary Cahill has been booked.

60 mins: Like Muhammad Ali in the Rumble in the Rungle Russia have soaked up everything England have thrown at them and are now starting to attack themselves, and Eric Dier almost heads a corner into his own goal, but Joe Hart tips it over.

There are signs this game could become increasingly open with players on both teams caught out of position as they charge forward. Russia are pouring forward now when they get the ball which was not the case in the first half.

However, England are still just about on top although they failed to capitalise on two free kicks on the edge of the box as Harry Kane's cross is scrambled to safety and Wayne Rooney's shot goes over the bar.

50 mins:  The second half starts with a fright for England as Kokoroin breaks into the penalty box and cuts it back for Dzjuba, but the big striker is muscled out by Chris Smalling inside the six yard box.

Worryingly for England, some the wind appears to have gone out of their sails and Russia have finally been able to hold possession in England's half.

Half-time - England 0 Russia 0: England put in scintillating first-half performance against Russia in Marseille but it was missing just one thing - an all important goal.

Dele Alli, playing in front of Wayne Rooney in midfield, was the star of the show, pulling the strings as England surged forward but could not break down the creaking Russian defence.

Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev had a busy opening 45 minutes, but England failed to work him hard. The toughest save he made was from Adam Lallana in the first ten minutes, but after that England's best attempts on goal were at the keeper.

Chris Smalling headed straight at him from a corner, Rooney shot at him from the edge of the box as did Harry Kane. Raheem Sterling was denied by a fine tackle from Igor Smolnikov when through on goal, Lallana also failed to hit the target and Harry Kane and Gary Cahill were inches away from connecting in front of goal.

Kane did have the ball in the net towards the end of the half after more neat work from England on the edge of the box, but he was offside when he received the ball from Lallana.

The fear for England is that Russia will regroup and half time and that they may lose their momentum after the break.

40 mins: England continue to monster Russia but cannot find the all-important breakthrough, but they are getting closer, although they are also getting more anxious.

There is more brilliant work from Dele Alli on the right wing, who gets the better of three Russian defenders to tee up Rooney on the edge of the box, but the Man United star's shot is, again, straight at Akinfeev.

Then a clever corner from Harry Kane almost pays off. The Spurs man played it short to Adam Lallana, who in turn fed Kane whose shot-cum-cross was inches away from being turned in by Gary Cahill.

Yet another through ball from Alli almost puts Kane in but, he can't quite reach it.

30 mins:  England continue to press, but have so far been unable to find a breakthrough. Harry Kane did have the ball in the net, but was clearly offside when he received the ball from Adam Lallana after more nice play from Dele Alli, who has been England's stand-out performer.

Earlier, only a great tackle from Igor Smolnikov prevented Raheem Sterling giving England the lead after he was put through on goal by Adam Lallana.

Meanwhile, the England fans have been making all the noise inside the Stade Velodrome, although they were almost silenced by a Russian counter attack, with Wayne Rooney turning defender to clear the danger in the England penalty box.

20 mins: England have been dominating the game and have created at least three clear goalscoring chances, with Chris Smalling heading straight at Akinfeev.

Spurs midfielder Dele Alli has been playing as a more orthodox number ten and linking up with Kane, while Rooney has been operating behind him.

Alli almost found the breakthrough when he was just unable to connect with a cross from Danny Rose.

But despite their dominance, England were given a warning when a powerful header from Ignashevich forced Joe Hart into a save after a Russian free kick, exposing England's vulnerability at set pieces.

10 mins: The first big chance falls to Adam Lallana whose shot is tipped over by Akinfeev after good work from Kyle Walker down the right wing. Then Harry Kane just fails to connect with a the ball after a miscued attempt on goal from Alli.

The two chances came after a positive start from both teams, with Dele Alli shooting over from 25 yards for England after a knock down from Lallana, who has been the most influential player in the opening exchanges. 

He and Sterling have been involved early on, both linking up well with Alli, with England very much on top.

However, Russia too had chances with 6ft 5in striker Dzjuba almost teeing up Kokorin and then minutes later almost getting a shot away in the box.

7.55pm: Roy Hodgson has confirmed that Wayne Rooney will play in midfield against Russia, a move which was described by TV pundit Lee Dixon as "a gamble".

Hodgson said he wanted England to benefit from Rooney's "passing ability", and hoped that Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana would be able to exploit the space on the wings, along with England's two attacking full backs.

Rooney has played in more tournament internationals than the rest of the England squad combined.

England vs Russia: Rooney, Kane, and Alli start - no Vardy or Wilshere

Roy Hodgson has picked an attacking team to face Russia in England's Euro 2016 opener in Marseille, although there is no room in the team for Jamie Vardy.

He is replaced by Raheem Sterling, with the Man City winger and Adam Lallana likely to play on the flanks, either side of main striker Harry Kane.

Behind the Spurs man, will be his team-mate Dele Alli and England captain Wayne Rooney, meaning there is no room for Jack Wilshere in the team.

With such an attacking front five, much will depend on another Spurs player, Eric Dier at the base of midfield. He will provide cover for the centre-backs, Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill.

Kyle Walker and Danny Rose are the full-backs in a team that features five Spurs players. Joe Hart is picked in goal.

THe build-up to the game, though, has been dominated by more violence involving England fans in Marseille. Police used tear gas for the third day running on Saturday afternoon as more trouble broke out. 

Fans of England, Russia and France are believed to have been involved in the scuffles, with some reports blaming black-clad Russian supporters for sparking the violence.

"Some British journalists in the area have described the scenes on social media, and pointed the finger at a gang of black-clad Russians, who they said had entered the port city's main square from a side street apparently seeking violence," says the BBC.

England vs Russia: Jamie Vardy and Jack Wilshere to miss out

10 June

Roy Hodgson plans to "go for the jugular" against Russia in England's opening fixtures of Euro 2016, but Leicester striker Jamie Vardy could be a shock casualty as he grapples with his future following Arsenal's attempt to sign him on the eve of the tournament.

Vardy failed to impress in England's final warm-up game against Portugal at Wembley last week and the Daily Mail says he and James Milner could be axed from the team. The paper claims the squad have been training in a formation that suggests neither will feature in Marseille on Saturday night.

"England's players have certainly been led to believe both are axed, with Raheem Sterling the favourite to replace Vardy, and Jack Wilshere or Adam Lallana coming in for Milner," it says. Liverpool's Lallana appears favourite to get the nod.

"If Vardy does discover he is indeed on the bench on Saturday, it will cap an already difficult week for the Leicester striker, who is still agonising over a massive money offer from Arsenal," continues the Mail.

Vardy was given time off to get married in the build-up to the tournament but then put in his poor performance. Against that backdrop, "the timing of Arsenal's approach for him certainly did not help".

Even if the Leicester star is absent, Hodgson will still "send  out one of the most attacking teams of his England reign" and "go for the jugular" against Russia, says the Daily Telegraph.

As well as Sterling and Lallana, the manager wants to fit Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney and Dele Alli into the starting XI because of his "desire to attack a Russia team, who are missing their normal central midfield pair and have a central defence with a combined age  of 69", reports the paper.

That is bad news for Jordan Henderson, who fears that he will be left out, it adds. 

But the Liverpool man will not be alone in his disappointment. "Hodgson's revised thinking, which could see the players deployed in either a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation, would involve no place for Jack Wilshere, with the manager instead likely to use the Tottenham Hotspur duo of Eric Dier and Dele Alli in central midfield," claims The Times.

 

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