Reds qualify at Euro 2016
Multiple Liverpool players were a part of qualifying countries who will be playing in the next round of Euro 2016 after the third group stage fixtures were played by the Group B teams including Slovakia, Wales and England.
Both games kicked off on 20th June, at 8PM GMT. This tournament has seen other group games feature various kick off times like 2PM, 5PM and one at 8PM sometimes, but these fixtures were played side by side at the exact same time in two different stadiums around France. For the record, I watched the England game live. The commentators were keeping fans watching that up to date with what was going on in the Wales fixture anyway, every time they scored it was announced and even replays of the goals were shown (and this happened three times).
Yes, Wales managed to secure a 3-0 victory over Russia who remain at the bottom of the group and failed to qualify from Group B. Russia will no longer be a part of the tournament.
Wales started off well and it took them only 11 minutes to find a goal as Joe Allen won the ball in the center of midfield and provided a perfectly placed ball that sped past Russia’s defenders and over to Ramsey for what would be an assist for his goal. The Russian goalkeeper came off his line to close him down and possibly save his shot but Ramsey would chip it over him to make it Wales 1-0 Russia.
Ten minutes later, Wales doubled their lead. It wasn’t scored by who you might guess – Ramsey? No! Bale? No! Joe Allen? No, I wish he’d gotten a goal but he didn’t score it either… running out of key Welshmen who usually score the goals now? It was Swansea’s Neil Taylor, a defender who is mostly seen at the back line of Wales’ team, but he’d made his way far up the pitch with the ball and managed to have a one on one situation with Russia’s goalkeeper. Taylor’s first shot was saved, but the goalkeeper had to commit himself, diving to his right hand side and down to the ground. As the saved ball rebounded back to him and the goalkeeper was down on the pitch by now, Taylor quickly slotted the ball into the open net with the second attempt. Wales 2-0 Russia.
So, less than half an hour had been played and Wales led Russia by two goals. It wouldn’t be the last goal of the game either. Wales had to wait until the second half for their third goal, but it was worth the wait.
Around the 67th minute, Chris Gunter was seen running with pace up the right wing. He’d quickly find his way to a place where he could cross from and picked out Gareth Bale, who had been waiting inside of the penalty area in a dangerous position, providing an assist for Wales final goal of the game. Bale hit the ball past Russia’s goalkeeper and the game was over now, even with just over 20 minutes left to play. Russia wouldn’t score any goals at all, never looking like making a comeback for even a draw in this fixture.
Man Of the Match? Gareth Bale had been a part of most attacks Wales threw at Russia and his goal in the second half sealed the victory for his country, also helping them to gain qualification and continue in the tournament. Russia won’t be playing any more games, but Wales will.
As Wales got their win, England were not doing as well with the goalscoring as their British allies. In fact, England scored no goals at all against Slovakia though still managed to qualify from their group in second place.
Germany and Poland had gotten the most surprising goalless draw in the tournament so far, with the World Cup Winners not managing to win or even score against a side that didn’t even have Lionel Messi in it, as had been seen in the 2014 World Cup Final. However, I think England may have just topped the most surprising goalless draw list. Most England fans had expected to see more goals from Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge as the two strikers had already been seen scoring for England as we won against Wales in our last fixture. In that game, they’d been substituted on at half time and only played 45 minutes. In the game against Slovakia, they’d actually been placed into the starting lineup and yet managed to score no goals in the extra time they were given to play.
From the start of the game, to the end of the game Slovakia were playing rather defensively. They were very rarely seen giving England goalkeeper Joe Hart anything to worry about as England spent most of the game holding the ball and attacking Slovakia’s goal when they weren’t keeping possession. However, despite the English dominating the game this way, the Slovakians defence was a wall we just couldn’t break through to get a goal.
It says more about Martin Skrtel and his other Slovakian defensive friends including goalkeeper Matus Kozacik than it does about any failings the England squad might have. England know how to score and it’s been seen happening in this tournament already, but the Slovakians really know how to defend very well and they mostly focused on not conceding, determined to at least gain a point from a draw even if they couldn’t make their way up the other end of the pitch to score and maybe win.
Man Of the Match? Nathaniel Clyne
Despite the fact that England hadn’t managed to score any goals, they’d still played well and been on the offensive throughout the entire game. Just as Wales had their defender Neil Taylor going forward for them, England had Liverpool defender Nathaniel Clyne going forward for them. He spent a large part of the game running around in offensive positions, crossing balls and generally assisting his teammates to try and find a goal. Nobody had worked harder than Clyne, he played from the start of the game to the end tirelessly and even had a shot saved that could possibly have become the only goal of the game had it made it past the Slovakian goalkeeper.
With the result ending England 0-0 Slovakia, the group table saw Wales jump up to 1st place with their win as England only gained a point from their draw. Even Slovakia may continue in this tournament as a third placed team that gets to qualify, but will be soon to face a group winner that will provide a challenge they may not have seen this far.
Good luck to all the Liverpool players who now continue at Euro 2016. I’d love to see a Liverpool player in the Euro 2016 Final and now there’s a real chance it can happen as they make their way out of the group stages and towards the knockout rounds. There are still more games from other groups to play, but England may next face anyone from Group F, which includes Hungary, Austria, Iceland and Portugal. English fans can at least expect one of these four team to be our next opponent now.
We’ll have more news on the Liverpool players in this tournament for you to come. You’ll Never Walk Alone, Anfield Family.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.