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Sunday 4 December 2016

UEFA threat to England

English will be thrown out if fans fight again

Russia's Vasili Berezutski scores their goal.
Russia's Vasili Berezutski scores their goal.

England and Russia face being thrown out of Euro 2016 if scenes of serious fan disorder continue, UEFA's executive committee has warned.

Ugly scenes both before and during Saturday night's Group B game in Marseille left a number of supporters injured, with one England fan in a critical condition in hospital.

UEFA was swift to open disciplinary proceedings against the Football Union of Russia for alleged crowd disturbances, racist behaviour and the setting off of fireworks towards the end of the game.

But now their executive committee has gone one step further in a strongly worded statement which indicates the governing body will not hesitate to impose the ultimate sanction.

Hesitate

The statement read: "The UEFA Executive Committee has warned both football associations that - irrespective of any decisions taken by the independent disciplinary bodies relating to incidents inside the stadium - it will not hesitate to impose additional sanctions on the FA and the RFU, including the potential disqualification of their respective teams from the tournament, should such violence occur again.

On the pitch, for all the positives that England can take from their performance against Russia in their opening Euro 2016 game there remains the worrying issue that their sophisticated modern defenders remain vulnerable to the most basic of attacking ploys -- a long punt into the box.

England's creative play and assured possession is unrecognisable from that of many previous squads, who were routinely condemned for their lack of technical ability, and they well deserved the 1-0 lead earned by Eric Dier's 73rd-minute free kick on Saturday.

While the current crop of defenders are probably more comfortable on the ball than most of their predecessors, they do not bear comparison when it comes to their most important role -- preventing other players scoring.

England's 2014 World Cup campaign was brought to an early end after horrific central defensive positioning blunders that allowed Italy and Uruguay to score very basic goals and on Saturday they blew what should have been a first-ever opening-match victory in the Euros in similar style.

With the clock in stoppage time, substitute James Milner's half-hearted attempt at shutting down Georgi Schennikov allowed him time and space to measure his deep diagonal ball into the box.

Somehow, though, Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling managed to leave diminutive full-back Danny Rose at the far post to deal with the tall and determined captain Vasili Berezutski, who jumped high and early, as Rose was unceremoniously flattened, and his looping header earned Russia a point they scarcely deserved.

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