ENGLAND suffered a stoppage-time setback as Russia salvaged a point in their Group B encounter in Marseille on Saturday night.
Eric Dier’s second-half free-kick looked to have won the game for Roy Hodgson’s side, but a looping header from Russia’s captain Vasili Berezutski levelled things up.
Here we pick out five things that we learned from England’s 1-1 draw…
Prior to some questionable substitutions, Hodgson looked to have banished for good the accusations that he’s a negative coach. This was an attacking team selection by the England coach and his young side took the game to Russia from the outset, dominating the first half as they pressed Russia hard and played with real verve.
Rooney revels in role
Having not played in midfield once for England prior to the tournament, the selection of Rooney in a far deeper role for the team’s first game left Hodgson open to criticism. And yet, his skipper delivered an assured performance in the centre of the pitch, particularly in the first half, during which he was arguably the game’s dominant force.
Dier is the key man
Holding midfield is a crucial role in any side and the responsibility on Dier’s shoulders is greater than most given he’s the only natural man for the role in England’s squad. On this evidence, he’s relishing it. Not only did he score the goal, but his use of the ball was good - completing 90 per cent of his 68 passes - and he showed maturity in protecting the defence.
Where was Vardy?
With Russia’s ageing centre-backs expected to defend deep given England’s attacking threat, it was perhaps understandable that Jamie Vardy did not start for Hodgson’s side. However, the accepted wisdom was that if England should go a goal up then the Leicester forward possesses the ideal skill-set to punish opponents chasing the game.