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Sturridge’s late goal gives England victory


Antoine Griezmann (L) of France celebrates after scoring against Albania during the Euro 2016 Group A match at the Stade Velodromein in Marseille, France on Wednesday. France won 2-0.
 LILLE, June 16: A 91st-minute goal from Daniel Sturridge helped England beat Wales 2-1 in the Euro 2016 “Battle of Britain clash” in Lens on Thursday, after goals from Gareth Bale and Jamie Vardy had tied the rivals.A free kick from Bale a few minutes before half-time gave Wales the lead, following which substitute Jamie Vardy equalised for England after the break.

The win puts England on top of Group B, with four points from their two games, while Wales are second on three points with one loss and one victory.

Prior to this game, the two rivals had contested against each other just four times in this century. In 101 meetings between the teams, England have lost on only 14 occasions.

All eyes were on Wales’ superstar Bale, whose 42nd-minute free kick was spilled into goal by England ‘keeper Joe Hart. Bale had claimed in the run-up to the match that his side has “more passion” and that no English player would even get into Chris Coleman’s team.

After the break, Hodgson substituted Harry Kane with Vardy and Raheem Sterling with Daniel Sturridge and the move paid off, Vardy hitting from close range into the bottom right corner of the net within nine minutes of coming on.

Bale shone as Wales won their first-ever game in a European Championship finals 2-1 over Slovakia, with the Real Madrid ace firing home a trademark freekick.

France through to last 16: Late goals from Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet booked hosts France’s place in the last 16 of Euro 2016 after overcoming stiff resistance from European Championship debutants Albania.

Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann came off the bench in Marseille to head the opener in the 90th minute before West Ham United’s Payet strengthened his reputation by smashing home a second deep into stoppage time.

Payet also struck a late winner as France opened the tournament with a nervy 2-1 win over Romania.

“This is becoming a bit of a habit, I’d prefer us to break the deadlock a bit earlier,” said a relieved French coach Didier Deschamps.

“Until the final whistle is blown there is still a chance to win the game, especially against teams who you have to wear down.”

However, two leave-it-late wins left doubts about whether Deschamps’s side can repeat the feats of French sides past at the 1984 Euros and 1998 World Cup by winning on home soil.

Deschamps surprisingly left Juventus star Paul Pogba and Griezmann on the bench in the only two changes from the game against Romania.

Les Bleus only kicked into gear with Pogba and Griezmann reunited with the mercurial Payet after the break.

“We needed a win to qualify, and it’s done,” Griezmann told French television.

“The coach had told me that I would be a substitute. I knew it and I wanted to do what I had to do once I got on.”

Griezmann finally made the breakthrough as the clock ticked into stoppage time, stooping to turn home Adil Rami’s cross. And Payet capped another man-of-the-match performance by firing into the far corner to round off a harsh scoreline on Albania.

Switzerland held to a 1-1 draw by Romania: Switzerland played a 1-1 draw against Romania in Paris, earlier on Wednesday.

Bogdan Stancu’s penalty gave Romania the advantage at the Parc des Princes. The Swiss spurned a host of chances to score before Admir Mehmedi finally slammed home to level just before the hour mark.

“We can be satisfied with a point. We were able to take an important step towards the next round and to be almost sure of reaching the last 16,” said Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic.

Stancu is fast becoming a penalty specialist at these championships, having also scored from the spot in the 2-1 defeat to France to join Payet as the only player to score twice at the tournament so far.

But the Swiss burst back into the game when Macedonian-born Mehmedi slammed home a loose ball from a corner in the 57th minute after the Romanian defence failed to clear. – Agencies

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