— UEFA EURO (@UEFAEURO) June 16, 2016
England managed to beat Wales 2-1 in the first of the three games of match day 7.
Wales opened the scoring in the 42nd minute, thanks to their star man Gareth Bale, who scored yet another free kick from an astonishing 30 yards out. The free kick was hit with such power and swerve that it completely bamboozled England goalkeeper Joe Hart, and found its way into the back of the net.
However, it truly was a game of two halves, as Roy Hodgson’s two substitutions managed to turn the game around entirely in the second half. The Three Lions’ boss subbed Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge on for Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane at half time, and 11 minutes into the second half, Vardy found an equalizer for England from close range.
The winning goal came in the 91st minute, as Sturridge won it for England by shooting the ball into goal from the near post, past the Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
English captain Wayne Rooney was named the man of the match for his influential performance from the heart of England’s midfield, whereas his club teammate Marcus Rashford became the youngest player ever (at 18 years 228 days) to represent England at the European Championship.
England manager Roy Hodgson highlighted the improvement his team made in the second half during the post-match interview: “We were doing OK but there were other aspects of our game which we could bring to the game. In the second half it was much more aggressive in terms of our attacking play. We were in a hair’s breath so many times but it took until the 92nd minute.”
He added: “I have great empathy with Chris and the Welsh team because he must have been looking at a good draw. He will be today as I was on Saturday night.”
Wales boss Chris Coleman was also quick to congratulate Roy, and said: “A point for us would have been fantastic. Congrats to Roy – he made some good substitutions and we knew they would push us back.
“The guys showed great heart. They stuck into the game and, with 60 seconds remaining, to give up that point we worked so hard for, we are gutted. We are here to get through to the last 16. If you are from Wales, you always looked at this game because it is England, but for me it is the middle game of three. We have to show a reaction against Russia.”
The win has taken England to the top of Group B, and they now need only a point against Slovakia to secure automatic qualification into the knockout stages. Wales, on the other hand, must win their final group game against Russia to guarantee a second place finish.
— UEFA EURO (@UEFAEURO) June 16, 2016
The second of the three games of match day 7 was played between Northern Ireland and Ukraine, which the Northern Ireland won 2-0.
The game remained goalless in the first half, and it was Gareth McAuley who handed Northern Ireland the lead in the 49th minute by scoring a delightful header. The lead was doubled in stoppage time, when Niall McGinn reacted to a rebound shot the quickest and slotted the ball home with a neat finish.
Gareth McAuley was named the man of the match, and the West Brom defender not only managed to score Northern Ireland’s first goal at a major tournament since the 1986 World Cup, but also played a huge part in securing Northern Ireland’s first victory at a major tournament finals in 34 years.
He had the following to say in his post-match interview: “Nobody has given us a chance. Lots of people said we wouldn’t get a point. We weren’t at it against Poland – to our standards, the intensity we wanted to play at – but tonight was a lot better. It’s special to score, it’ll sink in probably over the next few days. We’ve got a tough game to look forward to now, and we’ve got something to play for – that’s what we wanted.”
Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill also had his say on their victory: “We have given ourselves a great chance. It will take various permutations for us not to finish third. That gives us a shout at least. What we need to do is try to nick a point [against Germany]. We will let the players enjoy this and then the minds will switch to the Germans. It’s hard to put into words and absorb it all at this time. Everything good about Northern Ireland was in that stadium today.”
Germany and Poland played out a 0-0 draw in the final game of match day 7.
The draw between Germany and Poland was the first goalless draw in the Euro 2016 competition, as both teams failed to find a way past their opposition goals.
Germany coach Joachim Low praised his defence by stating: “I was quite pleased with our defence but our attack did not really create many chances. But neither did they. I did not start Gomez because the Polish central defence is strong in the air, so I wanted low passing with Götze. Group stage matches are attrition battles. I expect more openings in the knock-out stages.”
Poland coach Adam Nawalka was also content with his team’s performance, and said: “We were controlling things well, even at the end. There were times when Germany took the initiative but we gave them that consciously, to allow us space to hit them on the counter attack.
“I’m very happy with the team, in particular their discipline and tactical awareness. It all went exactly to plan. The players put a lot of heart into it. The only thing I’m not completely happy about is our failure to score but 0-0 was a fair scoreline.”
Both teams now possess four points, and will go through to the knockout stages if they manage to avoid defeats in their final respective Group C matches.