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Friday 2 December 2016

Hodgson gamble fails to pay off as English draw a blank

England boss Roy Hodgson Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire
England boss Roy Hodgson Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

England rang the changes and paid the price as a goalless draw with Slovakia saw them miss out on top spot in Group B at Euro 2016.

A point ensured Roy Hodgson’s side will make the last 16 but Wales’ victory over Russia means they should now face a tougher draw as runner-up.

Hodgson gambled with six changes, standing down captain Wayne Rooney among others, but saw the move backfire as their overall domination led to nothing more than stalemate.

Strike pairing Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge started the game and Leicester hitman Vardy had the best effort in a difficult first 45, but could only find the in-form Matus Kozacik when he tried to drill the ball through the Slovakian goalkeeper’s legs when one-on-one.

Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge also had good chances but for all the good build-up play and the possession England had, they could not find the back of the net.

Rooney, Dele Alli and Harry Kane were all thrown on but couldn’t make a difference as England ended up as runners-up in the group. However, central defender Gary Cahill said England had done all they could to get the better of Slovakia in St Etienne.

England now await a clash with the runners-up of Group F next Monday. “We tried and tried, time and time again,” Cahill said. “They shut the door in our face. There is disappointment for us tonight. We dominated from start to finish but couldn’t shut the door.”

However, Cahill didn’t view the changes Hodgson had made for the game as a factor.

“I don’t think so,” he said.

“We had the ball constantly, we didn’t have the cutting edge to open them up. In a game like that you need something special.

“We move on, we know we have a huge game coming up, it gives us time to get back fresh.”

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