Euro 2016 Report: Slovakia 0 - 0 England

Thu, Jun 23 2016

Slovakia 'keeper Matus Kozacik helped keep England at bay in St. Etienne. Credit: Al Robinson

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England tried and tried but they couldn't break down a resilient Slovakia side, being held to a 0-0 draw in St. Etienne that would see the Three Lions finish second in Group B.
 
The profligacy of Roy Hodgson's men in two games in this tournament – they also dropped points against Russia on Matchday One when they conceded a late equaliser – has now cost them dearly, leaving them on the wrong side of a last-16 draw which seems, on paper, to be imbalanced.
 
England have been drawn against Iceland in the last-16, the newcomers who are riding the crest of a wave following their incredible performances so far on their major tournament debut. They held Portugal to a 1-1 draw, reducing Ronaldo to bitterness, before drawing with eventual group winners Hungary and beating Austria 2-1.
 
The Icelanders will fancy their chances against England, and even if Hodgson can mastermind a way past them, the Three Lions' route to the final will be blocked by the Republic of Ireland/France, Italy/Spain and/or Germany/Slovakia. For winning Group B, despite being beaten by England on Matchday 2, Wales were drawn with Northern Ireland in the last-16.
 
Should they overcome Michael O'Neill's men, Wales have a far more negotiable path to the final, with Hungary/Belgium, Croatia/Portugal and/or Switzerland/Poland all on theiR side of the draw.
 
In total, England had 28 attempts against Slovakia but only managed to get five of those on target which tells it's own story about the problems Hodgson has ahead of a last-16 clash against a plucky team which managed to stifle Cristiano Ronaldo. They also had 11 corners to Slovakia's zero.
 
Matus Kozacik saved whatever actually did test him, including a fierce Nathaniel Clyne shot in the 53rd minute after the full-back burst into the box, obviously tired of the forwards not doing the business. The Slovak 'keeper tipped it over the bar.
 
Dele All almost scored as soon as he was introduced in the 61st minute, but he saw his fizzing left-footed volley directed over the bar by Slovak skipper Martin Skrtel. 
 
Danny Sturridge summed up his side's tournament to date as he was inches away from connecting to an Eric Dier ball after beating the offside trap. He was replaced by Harry Kane shortly afterwards, yet the Spurs' striker's struggles continued as he had little effect, missing a great chance in the 88th minute when he botched a close range header.
 
These are just a few of the many chances England had throughout, and Joe Hart wasn't entirely unemployed either, needing to be sharp to stop a Vladimir Weiss effort in the 55th minute which came through a teammate's legs. 
 
Hodgson at present doesn't seem to know how to get the best out of the attacking riches at his disposal. This is something he will need to rectify against Iceland who have already shown they are capable of punishing poor finishing from their opponents at Euro 2016.
 
 
Slovakia: Matus Kozacik; Peter Pekarik, Jan Durica, Martin Skrtel, Tomas Hubocan; Robert Mak, Juraj Kucka, Viktor Pecovsky (Norbert Gyomber, 66), Marek Hamsik, Vladimir Weiss (Milan Skriniar, 78); Ondrej Duda (Dusan Svento, 57).
Subs not used: Jan Novota (GK), Jan Mucha (GK), Patrik Hrosovsky, Jan Gregus, Kornel Salata, Stanislav Sestak, Miroslav Stoch, Michal Duris, Adam Nemec.
Bookings: V Pecovsky (23).
 
 
England: Joe Hart; Nathaniel Clyne, Chris Smalling, Gary Cahill, Ryan Bertrand; Jordan Henderson, Eric Dier, Jack Wilshere (Wayne Rooney, 55); Adam Lallana (Dele Alli, 60), Jamie Vardy, Daniel Sturridge (Harry Kane, 75).
Subs not used: Tom Heaton (GK), Fraser Forster (GK), John Stones, Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose, Marcus Rashford, James Milner, Ross Barkley, Kyle Walker.
Bookings: R Bertrand (51).
 
 
Referee: Carlos Velasco (ESP).
Attendance: 39,051.
Extratime Man of the Match: Matus Kozacik (Slovakia).