Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Wales top group ahead of England

Published:Tuesday | June 21, 2016 | 6:00 AM
Wales' scorers (from left) Neil Taylor, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey celebrate after Bale scored his side's third goal during the Euro 2016 Group B soccer match at the stadium municipal in Toulouse, France, yesterday.

FRANCE, (AP):

Wales qualified for the knockout stages of the European Championship as a group winner after they overwhelmed Russia 3-0 yesterday and England could only grind out a 0-0 draw with Slovakia.

In their first international tournament since the 1958 World Cup, Wales ended Group B with six points, one ahead of England, who also qualify for the round of 16. With four points on the board, Slovakia still have a chance to make it to the knockout stages as one of the best third-place teams.

Wales were dominant against a disappointing Russia side, producing an impressive counterattacking display that rested on more than just their talisman, Gareth Bale, the tournament's top scorer after three goals in three matches.

"As a nation geographically, we are small, but if you judge us by passion, you could say we were a continent tonight," Wales coach Chris Coleman said.

"These players keep delivering moments that I think they're not going to top, and they've done it again tonight in all fairness."

Next up for Wales, once the other group matches have been completed, will be a team that finished their group in third place.

While Coleman will prepare for the last 16, Russia coach Leonid Slutsky gave a strong hint that he won't be at the helm for much longer as the country readies to host the 2018 World Cup.

"I think after a type of tournament like this, you need someone else to take charge of the national side for major competitions," he said via a translator.

For England, there was frustration about their failure to top the group, especially after they had come from behind to beat Wales 2-1 in their previous game.

Coach Roy Hodgson took a gamble in team selection by dropping six players from the victory over Wales, including captain Wayne Rooney.

 

NOT FRIGHTENED

 

The gamble failed to pay off, even though his team kept the pressure up throughout the game and managed 30 shots. Slovakia, knowing a point could be enough to advance, rarely played in England's final third.

"Finishing second is a disappointment," Hodgson conceded. "But we are still in the last 16 and who is to say the team we will play will be that much stronger? You just don't know. The way we are playing, I am not frightened of anybody."

The final round of group matches continues with four matches today.

In Group C, Ukraine, who have already been knocked out of Euro 2016, take on Poland in Marseille, while Northern Ireland meet world champions Germany at the Parc des Princes in Paris.

In Group D, the Czech Republic meet Turkey in Lens, while Croatia take on two-time defending champions and already-qualified Spain in Bordeaux.