Euro 2016 Part 2: Back to Earth

When Daniel Sturridge found the back of the net in the dying moments there was a sense of crushing inevitability. Of course we would lose to England, of course our progression to the knock out stages would be a tense, down to the wire affair.

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In fairness England deserved the win after a Welsh performance which left the air blue and my nerves frayed. The attacking spirit and tough defending of the Slovakia game a distant memory as Wales adopted a defensive strategy with an eye on the counterattack.

The problem was that attempts at going forward were infrequent and lacked teeth, in fact that the opening goal belonged to us was a surprise and felt undeserved.

Wayne Rooney had needlessly fouled Hal Robson-Kanu, but it seemed too far out even for Gareth Bale. But a powerful strike from distance found the bottom corner and after half an hour of attacking England found themselves losing.

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With a goal advantage Wales should have looked for a knockout blow, but continued a dull strategy which seemed doomed to fail. As strong as a defence is, when facing wave upon wave of attack the odds slip in the attackers’ favour and so Jamie Vardy, on at the break buried the ball in the net to restore parity.

Even losing the lead didn’t change the Welsh game plan and it remained a tough watch. The defence looked shaky, particularly on the left where Neil Taylor gave Kyle Walker time and space and seemed unable to do anything other than backpedal.

Aaron Ramsey frustrated again and substitute Johnny Williams took to the field and blatantly dived when a little bit if work might have led to a shooting v opportunity. There was little to no pressure on the English defence when they had possession and they easily cleared their lines.

And then the Sturridge goal.

2-1 to England a fair result, they having created chances and attacked better. Wales had noone to blame but themselves for a poor display.

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From riding high to this gut punch of a defeat Wales now find themselves under pressure as they prepare for Russia Zealand and just get a result. It can be done, but it requires the team to remember the opening game’s fire and drive, and to actually go for the win.

Both home nations in group B can progress, and the last round of their games should provide some entertaining matches.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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