England continued their poor record in the opening games of big tournaments as they failed to capitalise on a stellar performance by Eric Dier to settle for a 1-1 draw with Russia on Saturday.

 

The result means that Wales have taken the top spot in Group B as they clinched all three points in a rather difficult match against Slovakia earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, Group A dark horses Switzerland managed to keep pace with the tournament hosts France with a difficult win over debutants Albania in the first match on Saturday.

Albania 0-1 Switzerland

It was an evening when Albania’s resilient display against Switzerland showed the world that although they are new to the Euros, they are not going to be cannon fodder for the stronger sides.

In spite of going down to 10 men in the first half, Albania kept on troubling their Swiss counterparts. Switzerland defender Fabian Schar snatched the lead as early as the fifth minute as he headed in a Xherdan Shaqiri corner. Things went from bad to worse for Albania, as their captain Lorik Cana received a second booking for handling the ball close to the Albanian penalty area.

Albania were a constant threat on the counter attack throughout the match. However, they failed to make any inroads as goalkeeper Yann Sommer stood firm in his goal, making two saves and four claims. At the other end, Albania keeper Etrit Berisha also kept his side in the game, as he made six crucial saves during the match.

Player of the match: Fabian Schar

Player Rating: 8.5/10

Schar had a brilliant game against Albania. The 24-year-old Hoffenheim centre-back was a rock in the heart of the Swiss defence, as he dominated the opposition forwards. Schar was especially good in the air, winning five aerial duels during the game. However, it was his brilliantly headed goal that gave his side the crucial three points in the game.

Wales 2-1 Slovakia

This was arguably one of the best matches we have seen so far at Euro 2016. With both sides harbouring a wealth of talent, this was always going to be a rather difficult fixture to predict. However, the Welsh had just enough quality in the end to run away with the three points.

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale showed why he is the most expensive football player in the world, as he scored a wonderful freekick goal to open the scoring against Slovakia. However, the Slovaks fought back impressively and took control of the game in order to get the equaliser.

In fact, Slovakia kept 58 per cent possession during the match as they went forward in search of goals. Their hard work paid off just after the hour mark, as Ondrej Duda slotted in the equaliser. Buoyed with the momentum, Slovakia went in search of the winner.

However, Wales shot into the lead again as Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey played substitute Hal Robson-Kanu through on goal in the 81st minute. The former Reading player scored the winner with just nine minutes to go.

Player of the match: Gareth Bale

Player Rating: 8/10

The Real Madrid star was one of the best performers of the night for Wales, as the Dragons set out on their mission to qualify for the knockout stage of the tournament. Bale has already given us a potential goal of the tournament with his free kick, and was also a constant thorn in the side of the Slovakian defenders, winning four aerial duels.

England 1-1 Russia

England’s opening day woes in major tournaments continued as they had to settle for a draw against Russia in Marseille on Saturday. The Three Lions came out all guns blazing against Russia, as they created a flurry of chances in the first half. However, the Russians somehow managed to keep their opponents out of goal.

It was a completely different story in the second half however, as Russia started to take control of the game against a shell-shocked England. However, with a little over a quarter of an hour to go, it was Tottenham Hotspur holding midfielder Eric Dier who stepped up to slot in a close range freekick against the run of play.

The Three Lions seemed to take control of the game after this goal, but the Russians roared back in injury time, as captain Vasili Berezutski climbed high inside the England box to head in a Georgi Shchennikov cross.

Player of the match: Igor Akinfeev

Player Rating: 8/10

Although Eric Dier had a brilliant match, Russia goalkeeper Akinfeev was the best player in the match. The 30-year-old was the difference between a draw and a defeat, as he made four crucial saves to keep the England attackers out. One of these saves in particular was a blinder of a stop from a Wayne Rooney shot. Akinfeev’s vision was impeded by two of his own defenders and had to make a reflex save to keep the England captain out.

Read More: EURO 2016 – 30 BEST YOUNG PLAYERS WHO COULD SHINE

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