Sturridge strike saves Three Lions

Daniel Sturridge struck an injury-time winner as England came from behind to beat Wales and secure their first victory at Euro 2016.

England keeper Joe Hart’s dreadful blunder allowed Gareth Bale’s 30-yard free-kick to creep in and put Wales ahead just before the interval in Lens.

Manager Roy Hodgson’s side were jeered off at the break and, with England’s campaign – and arguably his future – on the line, he gambled by introducing Jamie Vardy and Sturridge for the struggling Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane.

The roll of the dice worked as Vardy scrambled in an equaliser from close range after 56 minutes before constant England pressure saw Sturridge work his way into the area and poke past Wales keeper Wayne Hennessey at the near post.

England move top of Group B and need a point against Slovakia on Monday to earn automatic qualification into the last 16, while Wales must beat Russia to guarantee a top-two finish.

When England left the pitch at half-time accompanied by abuse from their own fans, everything was on the line in this Euro 2016 campaign.

England were facing a humiliating first defeat by Wales since 1984 and the pressure was on Hodgson as his own future would have been in jeopardy if he and his team had made an ignominious exit from France.

He needed to be positive and inspirational, qualities his detractors have accused him of lacking in the past – but here it came off.

Out went Kane and Sterling and on came Sturridge and Vardy. It was all-out attack and the momentum shifted almost instantly as the second half was a tale of almost virtual England domination.

A different script might have been written had Sturridge not produced that late winner, but the bottom line is Hodgson’s ploy worked.

It was not scientific – more a question of throwing everything at it and see what happens – but the desired result was achieved and England secured a win from a losing half-time position for the first time at a major tournament.

Hodgson gambled with England’s Euro 2016 future and his own. Now he will hope the tournament is ignited for his team.

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