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Euro: Sturridge's late strike helps England edge past Wales

June 16, 2016 21:12 IST

IMAGE: Daniel Sturridge and Marcus Rashford of England celebrate England's second goal during the UEFA EURO Group B match against Wales in Lens. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images.

Substitute Daniel Sturridge scored a dramatic winner in injury time to steer England towards a 2-1 win over Wales and top spot in their Group B clash Euro 2016.

A goal down to Wales at half-time, England manager Roy Hodgson brought on forwards Sturridge and Jamie Vardy to replace the ineffectual Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane.

It turned out to be a pivotal change as Vardy, England's Footballer-of-the-Year in the Premier League this season for his goalscoring for champions Leicester City, grabbed an equaliser in the 56th minute.

Then, with England piling on the pressure in the dying seconds, Surridge scrambled his way through the box to fire home the winner from close range.

The result left England at the top of Group B on four points, ahead of Wales and Slovakia on three and Russia bottom with just one point.

IMAGE: Gareth Bale (left) of Wales celebrates scoring his team's first goal with his team mate Hal Robson-Kanu (centre) in Lens. Photograph: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images.

Wales manager Chris Coleman rewarded Hal Robson-Kanu for coming on and scoring the winner against Slovakia with a place in the starting lineup against an unchanged England side.

In fact Coleman made three changes to the side that started against the Slovaks, with Wayne Hennessey starting in goal instead of Danny Ward and Joe Ledley replacing David Edwards, while Robson-Kanu takes the place of Jonathan Williams.

And it was the Welsh team, playing in their first major tournament since 1958, who drew first blood, when Gareth Bale struck a wonderful free kick from 30 metres. 

England had dominated most of the first half but went behind when Bale's looping free kick found its way over the England wall and keeper Joe Hart, diving to his left, could not stop the ball making its way into the net inside the post. 

IMAGE: Jamie Vardy of England celebrates scoring England's first goal. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images.

Then, 11 minutes after coming on, Sturridge and Vardy combined to put England level. Sturridge lifted the ball into the box where it came off the head of Wales captain Ashley Williams, and Vardy pounced.

Sturridge said he was just happy to have got on the field and grab the winner.

"It's a great feeling, unbelievable," Sturridge said. "I'm grateful for the opportunity. "It's only one more game in the group so no-one should get too excited. But it was an amazing feeling. It's great to help the boys win the game.

Vardy added: "Everyone wants to be part of the playing lineup and coming off the bench you want to try to make an impact.

"The message was simple carry on what we're doing."

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