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England 2 - Wales 1

Thursday, 16th June

The mind games were over as football's Battle of Britain took place on the field in Lens.

Wayne Hennessey came in for Wales and England remained unchanged.

The game started with an FA Cup Final feel to it; both sets of fans full of belief that they had the star man to make the difference, and both teams created enough half-chances to keep the fans buzzing.

Although England dominated for much of the first-half, the work rate of Hal Robson-Kanu frustrated Wayne Rooney, and the England captain conceded a needless free-kick in a rash retaliation; shortly before half-time.

Even at thirty-five yards out, Gareth Bale lined up the ball, checked the flight path, took a few steps back and edged to the side, like a Welsh rugby player at Twickenham.

Joe Hart looked nervous before the kick, and a little ridiculous after it, as Bale floated the ball over the wall; and dropped it agonisingly between Joe Hart's outstretched hands and his left post.

Half-time: England 0 - Wales 1

So much was made of Roy Hodgson's five attacking options when he announced the squad before the tournament. England needed to move the ball quicker in the second-half and maybe use the other options available.

Either changes had to be made to take advantage of the chances being created, or the cautious England manager would have to boldly think about another job.

Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge appeared from the tunnel, to replace the ineffectual Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane.

The roll of the dice paid off, just ten minutes after the break, as Daniel Sturridge chipped the ball in from the left. It bounced off the head of Ashley Williams and the poaching Leicester forward, Jamie Vardy, was in the right position to spin the ball into the net.

The next ten minutes saw wave upon wave of forward movement from England. The English fans could sense the desire for victory from the men in white battling away down on the field below them.

When Marcus Rashford came on for Adam Lallana, with a little over fifteen minutes remaining, he became the youngest England player to play at a European Championship Finals tournament; beating Wayne Rooney by four days.

Roy Hodgson made the most positive changes to a game he possibly could. The manager had done his job, now it was down to the players to do what was expected of them.

Wales started to drop deeper; passionately defending the point, by throwing bodies in front of the ball and blocking any attempt by England to gain an advantage.

Pride and passion played out in injury time though. Wales needed to hold on for just a few minutes longer, but England's patient build-up paid off.

The ball looked like it was in a pinball machine and England fans had to hold their collective breath for fear of triggering the tilt.

Daniel Sturridge to Jamie Vardy, back to Dele Alli, and a tap through for Daniel Sturridge; who stumbled through a challenge and finished of at the near post; repaying the faith Roy Hodgson had placed in his two half-time substitutes, with an injury-time winner.

The lions roared; another win for St George and defeat for the dragon. A gallant effort from the Welsh but the pride could be seen in the puffed out chests of the stronger team with the real desire to win and turn the tables on the doubters.

Group B in Lens.

Travel to England Travel to Wales

Final Score: England 2 - Wales 1

0:1 (Gareth Bale, 42)
1:1 (Jamie Vardy, 56)
2:1 (Daniel Sturridge, 92)

England :
1-Joe Hart;
2-Kyle Walker, 5-Gary Cahill, 6-Chris Smalling, 3-Danny Rose;
20-Dele Alli, 17-Eric Dier, 10-Wayne Rooney;
8-Adam Lallana, 9-Harry Kane, 7-Raheem Sterling.

Wales:
1-Wayne Hennessey;
2-Chris Gunter, 5-James Chester, 4-Ben Davies;
3-Neil Taylor, 6-Ashley Williams, 7-Joe Allen, 16-Joe Ledley;
9-Hal Robson-Kanu, 10-Aaron Ramsey, 11-Gareth Bale.

Euro 2016 in France.

Michel - Founder of TravelNotes.org and Meta-Travel.com