England 2-1 Wales: Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge secure comeback win
By Stephen Mills
Last Updated: 16/06/16 8:58pm
Substitutes Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge scored as England came from behind to beat Wales 2-1 in Thursday's 'Battle of Britain' at Euro 2016.
Gareth Bale had put Wales ahead with a first-half free-kick, but Roy Hodgson's half-time changes proved crucial as England roared back after the break.
Vardy smashed home on 56 minutes before Sturridge struck in injury-time to see England leapfrog their opponents to move top of Group B.
A point against Slovakia on Monday would guarantee progress for Hodgson's side with a win confirming top spot, while Wales can also secure a place in the last 16 if they beat Russia in their final game.
Chris Coleman knew a win over England would have seen Wales reach the last 16 and made three changes to the side that beat Slovakia with Wayne Hennessey fit to start in goal; Joe Ledley in midfield and Hal Robson-Kanu up front.
Hodgson stuck with the same XI that started in Saturday's draw with Russia, meaning Raheem Sterling retained his place, and the first big chance of the game fell his way within seven minutes.
Adam Lallana crossed low from the right only to see the Manchester City forward, on the stretch, steer the ball over with his left foot from 10 yards.
Captain Wayne Rooney took over England's set-piece duties from Harry Kane and carved out two further chances in the first half. His 26th-minute free-kick was headed into the palms of Hennessey by Gary Cahill before his corner from the left was headed narrowly wide by Chris Smalling.
England's players also roared for a penalty when Kane headed Sterling's cross onto the shoulder - and then hand - of Ben Davies inside the six-yard box, but German referee Felix Brych deemed it unintentional.
And after dominating possession throughout the first half, England were made to pay in the 42nd minute as the golden left boot of Bale broke the deadlock.
Rooney tripped Robson-Kanu 30 yards from goal and Bale, who had been quiet throughout the first period, lifted the resulting free-kick over the England wall and into the net.
Much like his effort against Slovakia on Saturday, the shot was not in the corner of the goal, and questions will be asked of Joe Hart who dived to his left but could not get a firm hand on it to keep it out.
Hodgson responded by throwing on Vardy and Sturridge for Kane and Sterling at half-time and it paid dividends within 11 minutes of the restart as the duo combined to drag England level.
After Wales failed to clear their lines from a corner, Sturridge lofted the ball back into the area. Vardy drifted into an offside position inside the six-yard box, but Wales defender Ashley Williams unintentionally flicked the ball on and the Leicester striker swivelled to smash the ball home from five yards.
England continued to push and Sturridge scuffed a volleyed effort from near the penalty spot after good work from Danny Rose before Hodgson rolled the dice again by throwing on 18-year-old Marcus Rashford for his first competitive international appearance with 17 minutes left.
But it was Sturridge who would grab the headlines with a goal one minute into injury-time to break Welsh hearts.
The Liverpool striker started the move himself on the edge of the area, playing the ball to Vardy who flicked it to Dele Alli and back into the path of Sturridge to prod beyond Hennessey at the near post.
After conceding to Russia in injury-time on Saturday, the emotions were reversed as England's players and fans went wild although Bale almost cut short their celebrations as he flashed a late header wide.
England held on to secure victory but both sides have qualification for the last 16 in their own hands ahead of Monday's final round of matches.
England: Hart, Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose, Alli, Dier, Rooney, Lallana (Rashford, 73), Kane (Vardy, 46), Sterling (Sturridge 45)
Wales: Hennessey, Chester, A Williams, Davies; Gunter, Ramsey, Allen, Ledley (Edwards 67), Taylor, Bale, Robson-Kanu (J Williams, 72)
Man of the Match: Kyle Walker