Cheat sheet: A promising England performance ultimately ends in disappointment


Russian captain Vasili Berezutski got Russia a point they barely deserved in Marseille, after Eric Dier had not long before placed a free-kick expertly into the top left corner to give England the lead.

The 1-1 draw in England's group B opener is tough on the Three Lions, given the way they performed throughout the game, but there are plenty of positives Roy Hodgson and his team will be able to take from it.

Here's what happened.

The game in one line

Tongue-in-cheek, obviously. A great performance, a slightly disappointing result.

Key moments

England's Adam Lallana, center, reacts after a missed chance
(Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

1. Within the first 20 minutes England had a host of chances, but Adam Lallana's dragged shot (22 minutes) was the best of the early flurry. It came following a glorious cutback from Kyle Walker, who had been receiving a lot of joy down the right. The early signs were incredibly bright, with Lallana's movement at the heart of it all. The Russian defence were being pulled all over the place but ruthlessness in front of goal was missing.

2. Eric Dier forces a save... from Joe Hart (58 minutes). It was heart in mouths time as Dier, who scored an own goal against Australia, headed the ball back at Hart after being surprised from a corner. The City man managed to touch it over.

3. Wayne Rooney hits the bar (70 minutes). Some great work down the left side sees the ball cut back into Rooney's path - he side-foots the ball past two Russian defenders and towards the goal, only for the keeper to get a hand to the ball and for it to cannon on to the bar.

England's Eric Dier, right, scores the opening goal
(Ariel Schalit/AP)

4. Eric Dier puts the ball into the top corner (72 minutes). England had won a number of free-kicks up to this point, with Rooney coming the closest. He's nowhere to be seen for this one, which presumably made Gary Neville on the England bench very cross. Harry Kane, who'd been on corner duty, runs towards the ball and over it. Decoy. Eric Dier takes a confident step on to it. Eric Dier, everybody's thinking? But a second later the ball is nestled in the top left. It wasn't precisely in the corner, but still, Gareth who?

5. The ball's floated to the back post before being sent back over Hart and into the net (91 minutes). Isn't that just typical. A scruffy goal in the 90th minute brings England crashing back to reality. 1-1. Seconds later, the whistle blows.

Who played well?

England's first half performance was miles better than their second, with a number of players standing out. Wayne Rooney completed more passes than anyone else on the pitch in the first 45 - a few of them truly defence splitting. The England captain looked well suited to the midfield role he was deployed in and that bodes well for games to come.

Elsewhere Lallana seemed to be the key ingredient to England's early onslaught, his movement dazzling the Russian defence and creating huge gaps in it - gaps his runs would eventually allow him to exploit.

The England full-backs both had a great game, with Rose and Walker having acres of space to gallop into due to the Russian's prioritising Alli and Lallana. Dier was exactly where he needed to be at all times, and Raheem Sterling was also direct ahead of Rose, although question marks still loom around his end product.

Who played badly?

It would be harsh to say anybody performed badly, but Kane's chances were limited in the game and his impact minimal. It wasn't a game his hold up play was needed in, and though he did get the ball into the net the chance was clearly offside. The number nine was also missing on a few occasions when ball came into the box.

Was it the right result?

For a long time it seemed as though England would continue their record of never having won their opening European Championships game, but for once it wouldn't be because of an uninspiring performance. Then the Three Lions roared and after a game of consistently knocking on the door, that statistic looked like it could be consigned to history. A nil-nil would almost have been easier to take than the late equaliser England instead suffered.

If England can be clinical in front of goal, the signs for this tournament are positive. Other teams watching will still be wary, but the problems clearly lay where we all knew they did - the defence.

Key stat

It's the "inevitable" that hurts.

Tactics check

England's Jamie Vardy looks on from the substitutes bench
(Owen Humphreys/PA)

The talk before the game was about where Rooney would start, and Hodgson looks to have made the decision by sticking him in a midfield three alongside Dier and Alli. Sterling and Lallana also repaid the manager's faith, but Vardy will be wondering whether Kane's lacklustre performance will be enough to see him starting against Wales.

What next?

Russia face Slovakia at 2pm on Wednesday June 15, while for England next up is the big one: Wales at Stade Felix Bollaert-Delelis.

Hodgson and the more experienced members of the England squad might have to give the young ones some perspective heading into that game - sure, it ended disappointingly, but what we witnessed in Marseille was one of England's finest tournament performances in recent years. Add that missing ingredient in front of goal and the kids just might be all right.