LENS: England manager Roy Hodgson celebrated his first finals win in four years on the back of two substitutions he admitted he had not expected to need so early writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Goals from Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge, summoned off the bench at half-time, secured a 2-1 win in Group A at Euro 2016 over a Wales team who had snatched a surprise lead just before the interval through a Gareth Bale free kick.
Hodgson was mindful of how England had conceded a last-minute equaliser to Russia in their opening game.
He said: “It’s amazing to play so well as we did against Russia and lose an equalising goal in the 93rd minute and today we worked so hard in the second half and it took us until the 92nd minute to get our goal.
“We say that everything evens itself out over time but it’s rare to see things even out in the space of two games.”
Explaining his decision not to change his starting line-up but then rip up Plan A at half-time, Hodgson said: “We thought hard about the starting 11 and were aware that the Russian game took something out of people so we always planned on making changes but I had thought I’d rather keep one or two up my sleeve.
“I was not counting on going a goal down as we did. The changes were pushed on to me earlier rather than later but it was always in my thoughts to bring Sturridge and Vardy on.”
Hodgson had words of qualified consolation for Wales. He said: “If I had been watching from afar I’d have felt very sorry for them but I’m too close and my main feeling is that I’m pleased for ourselves.
“It was a very dominant performance. We were very bold in our attacking play and it took some incredible defending from the Wales back five to keep us out for so long.”
Wales manager Chris Coleman said his players were “gutted” to have conceded a winning goal in stoppage time.
He said: “A point would have been fantastic. But England are a very good team and we knew they were going to press us and push us back.
“Most of the time we looked quite strong. The guys showed such heart and stuck at the game and to give up those points with 60 seconds left was disappointing.”
Wales can still secure a place in the second round with a draw against Russia on Monday. Coleman said: “We can’t hang on to this disappointment. We have to put it to bed if we’re to get to the last 16.”
Gareth Bale, Wales’ marksman, said he was “very proud” of all his team. He added: “If we go out and give 100pc we can have no regrets. Inside we still feel strong, we’re enjoying the experience and the tournament’s not over yet. We’re still in the thick of it.”
England captain Wayne Rooney thought “we wer fantastic.”
Alluding to the decisive substitutes, he added: “We as a group of players we’re not just 11 men. We all trust each other in the squad to do a good job and it was a great feeling to win the game the way we did. It was a great victory and fully deserved.”
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