Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge rose from the bench to score as England came from behind to defeat neighbours Wales 2-1 in yesterday’s all-British Euro 2016 clash in Lens.
Just as he had in Wales’s opening 2-1 win over Slovakia, Gareth Bale put Chris Coleman’s side ahead with a long-range free-kick that England goalkeeper Joe Hart could only fumble into the net.
But Vardy and Sturridge came on at halftime and after the former had equalised in the 56th minute, the latter smuggled in a stoppage-time winner that fired Roy Hodgson’s men to the top of the group.
Wales are a point back in second place, above Slovakia on head-to-head record, and need to beat Russia in Toulouse on Monday to guarantee one of the two automatic qualifying berths.
A draw against Slovakia in Saint-Etienne will suffice for England and they will approach the game with renewed optimism after belatedly kicking their tournament into gear.
It was the 102nd meeting between the teams, but the first at a major championship, and the boxy, British-style Stade Bollaert-Delelis provided an ideal setting on a day when fears of fan violence failed to materialise.
Wales recalled first-choice goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey after he missed the win over Slovakia owing to a back spasm, as well as Joe Ledley and Hal Robson-Kanu, who came off the bench in Bordeaux to score the winner.
While it meant that Wales were at full strength, they were content to let England, who were unchanged, force the issue and it was Hodgson’s men who bossed the first half on a sunny afternoon in northern France.
They should have taken the lead in the seventh minute when Harry Kane freed Adam Lallana to cross for Raheem Sterling, but from seven yards out the Manchester City man could only slide the ball over the bar.
Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling threatened with headers, while the most contentious incident of the first period saw Kane denied a penalty when his close-range header struck Ben Davies’s outstretched left hand.


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