Vasili Berezutski struck in added time as Russia, second best for long periods, rescued a draw from their UEFA EURO 2016 opener against England.
The Russia captain outjumped Danny Rose inside the penalty area, looping a header over Joe Hart into the far corner – despite Denis Glushakov's best efforts to steal the goal on the line. It silenced the masses of England fans, who were in good voice thanks to Eric Dier's wonderful free-kick with a little over a quarter of an hour remaining.
It was a case of what might have been for Roy Hodgson's men on a clammy, close night in Marseille. They dominated for long spells, penning their opponents back. Spurred on by Wayne Rooney – deployed in central midfield – and thrusting right-back Kyle Walker, they twice tested Igor Akinfeev before the break through Adam Lallana.
Russia only had one effort on target in that time, when Sergei Ignashevich headed straight at Hart from Oleg Shatov's free-kick. Leonid Slutski's charges carried a greater threat in the second period, although it was England who seemed to have landed the decisive blow, soon after the busy Akinfeev had made an astonishing save to direct a Rooney shot against the crossbar.
Berezutski, 33, had other ideas, meeting Igor Smolnikov's ball from the left to earn Russia an unlikely point. It means England have still never won their opening game in a EURO finals.
Man of the match: Eric Dier
England's Rose, Walker, Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane – all from Tottenham Hotspur – made their major tournament debuts in the imposing surroundings of the impressive Stade Vélodrome. They each played their part, but it was the tidy and economical Dier who seemed to have had the final say.
Two goals from eight caps is not bad for a sitting midfielder, who moved into the top five of the Player Barometer thanks to this display. He completed 61 of his 68 passes and made three interceptions as well as three clearances in addition to his strike. "I thought we did everything right: we controlled the game, we played out from the back, we pressed when we needed to, we won the ball back, we countered," said the Tottenham tyro.
Hodgson's bold move at deploying Rooney, England's 52-goal all-time leading scorer, in central midfield for the first time in his international career was a daring one. The Manchester United player, though, was the Three Lions' conductor throughout, getting on the ball sometimes extremely deep and spraying passes wherever he wished.
No longer the rampaging presence he was in his teens, the 30-year-old still oozes confidence and authority nonetheless.
A lot was made in the build-up about how Russia's centre-back pairing of Ignashevich and Berezutski, combined age 69, might cope against the pace and energy of England's youngsters.
The CSKA Moskva team-mates, however, stood up to the challenge well, dealing with just about every ball that was delivered into their sphere of influence. What's more, Berezutski's goal was only his fifth in 96 international outings.
Team reporters' view from Stade Vélodrome
Simon Hart, England (@UEFAcomSimonH)
Roy Hodgson’s side produced the first-half display of their dreams, the kind of which we’ve seldom seen from England teams at major tournaments – fast and full of freedom and purpose and, frankly, a joy to watch.
Unfortunately, it was a performance lacking in the ruthlessness Joe Hart had called for in the lead-up to this match. England should have had the game won but failed to get that second goal and just as we knew all about their attacking potential, so we knew about their defensive vulnerability and it resurfaced at the worst possible time with that crushing late equaliser.
Richard van Poortvliet, Russia (@UEFAcomRichardVP)
Russia were rescued in added time as Berezutski got a last-gasp goal to give his team a deserved point. Russia were second best in the first 45 minutes but were much improved in the second half and will be full of confidence going into their encounter with Slovakia on Wednesday.
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