England reach round of 16 after scoreless draw with Slovakia | Euro 2016

England have qualified for the round of 16 after playing out a scoreless draw against Slovakia in St-Etienne this evening. 

It was a similar story to their first match against Russia, but without a goal. The fans came out in full force, singing for the entire 90 minutes, but the players from both sides were less than impressive.

Vardy had earned himself a spot in Hodgson’s starting line-up, along with five other inclusions. Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney, Dele Alli, Danny Rose, Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling had all been dropped. Their starting replacements were Jack Wilshere, Ryan Bertrand, Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Nathaniel Clyne and Jamie Vardy. Only two of the six replacements made an impact, Clyne and Vardy.

England set the tone early, creating multiple chances in the opening 10 minutes. Vardy was thick in the action after scoring a goal against Wales last week in Lens.

To Slovakia’s credit, they were well set up and were well drilled in a defense led by Captain and Liverpool player Martin Skrtel.

England’s full backs pressed higher up the pitch as they continued to dominate possession and push the Slovakian’s further back into their own half.

Marek Hamsik was the only player providing good ball distribution and movement for Slovakia but it was not enough.

The closest chance in the first half came from Jamie Vardy, hitting his shot on target only to be denied by goalkeeper Matus Kozacik in one on one.

Poor ball distribution was to blame for England’s sloppy play as they moved the ball forward. With a highly Liverpool influenced team, Reds Captain Jordan Henderson struggled to put any of his corners on target while Daniel Sturridge remained quiet.

At the 60th minute, Henderson had already tallied up eight missed passes.

Adam Lallana has arguably been one of England’s best throughout the group stages, providing lots of energy down the wings and linking up well with Jamie Vardy and Kane.

Hodgson’s master plan failed miserably, as Jack Wilshere once again was ineffective in midfield for The Three Lions.

England’s major tournament group stage hoodoo almost became reality once again; after confusion in communication between Chris Smalling and Goalkeeper Joe Hart almost resulted in a goal for Slovakia.

Nathaniel Clyne continued to push forward from right back, and almost broke the deadline firing a shot at Kozacik.

After another shocking performance, Wilshere was jeered off by English fans, replaced by Captain Wayne Rooney who received a huge reception from the English faithful.

As the game drew to a close, English fans became more frustrated, as Slovakia sat back and soaked up all their forward pressure.

 

The goal didn’t come, and England will finish behind neighborhood rivals Wales in second position in the group. England need to quickly find a way to convert their possession into goals, and decide whether Dele Alli or Wayne Rooney is their first choice attacking midfielder.

Wales defeated Russia 3-0 and go into the round of 16 with all the momentum, while Roy Hodgson will once again go back to the drawing board.

Ari Charilaou