Hodgson delight as his subs see England turn it round against Wales
Sturridge and Vardy come off bench to complete 2-1 comeback
England manager Roy Hodgson reflected on the fickle nature of fate after Daniel Sturridge’s last-gasp stoppage-time goal earned his team a 2-1 Euro 2016 victory over Wales on Thursday.
Wales went ahead through Gareth Bale’s 35-yard free-kick late in the first half of the British derby at Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens, only for half-time substitute Jamie Vardy to equalise in the 56th minute.
Hodgson had been left to rue an injury-time goal in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Russia, but this time he celebrated one, leaping from the dug-out after Sturridge squeezed a shot past Wayne Hennessey in the 91st minute.
“It’s certainly two different ends to the spectrum,” Hodgson said after seeing his side topple Wales from the Group B summit.
“It’s a long time since myself and the coaching staff have showed such joy at a goal. That’s because that goal the other night put us under a bit of pressure.”
Having sent on Vardy and Sturridge at half-time, Hodgson made another attacking change in the second half when he introduced Marcus Rashford, leaving England with four of their five named strikers on the pitch.
“I thought we were doing OK, but I thought there were other aspects of our game which we could bring to the game,” he said.
“In the second half it was much more aggressive in terms of our attacking play. We were a hair’s breadth away so many times, but it took until the 91st minute.”
He added: “I have great empathy with Chris and the Welsh team because he must have been looking at a good draw. He will be today as I was on Saturday night.”
Wales manager Chris Coleman praised the “heart” shown by his players and said that although England had largely dominated the game, the manner of defeat had been cruel.
“England are a good team and it was a tough game, but you can’t tell me my players deserved that,” he told his post-match press conference.
“The effort and courage were fantastic. You have to ride your luck a little bit.
“In the main they had a lot of possession, but it wasn’t like Wayne Hennessey pulled off save after save. To lose like that was gut-wrenching for the players and supporters.”
The result left Wales needing to beat Russia in Toulouse on Monday to guarantee one of the two automatic qualifying berths.
“We are gutted, but we have to move on,” Coleman said. “We are here to get through to the last 16.
“If you are from Wales, you always looked at this game because it is England, but for me it is the middle game of three. We move on and have to show a reaction against Russia.”
Vardy, who became the first Leicester City player to score for England at a major tournament, said that he hoped he had done enough to win a starting role in Monday’s meeting with Slovakia in Saint-Etienne.
The hero of Leicester’s fairytale Premier League triumph, Vardy was an unused substitute in the draw with Russia, but made his mark against Wales after replacing Harry Kane at half-time.
“Hopefully we will get another win to top the group,” he said.
“I will be trying my hardest in training, so we will find out (if I start) in the next game.”
England captain Wayne Rooney praised 18-year-old Manchester United team-mate Rashford, who came on to become England’s youngest European Championship finals player, breaking Rooney’s record from Euro 2004.
“Marcus will be delighted,” said Rooney.
“I think it was 112 days ago he made his debut for Manchester United and now he is playing on the biggest stage, so I am really pleased for him.”