A stoppage time equaliser from Russian defender Vasili Berezutski denied England all three points in their Group D, Euro 2016 opener against Russia.
The Three Lions had taken the lead courtesy of Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier when he smashed in a free kick from 20 yards.
After nights and nights of trouble in the streets of Marseille, it was finally time for England to turn the attention towards the playing side of things.
In terms of team selection, there was no surprises, as Roy Hodgson elected to go with the starting XI that had been touted amongst the media for the majority of the week.
Russia came into the tournament with a number of injuries including stars such as CSKA Moscow midfielder Alan Dzagoev.
This meant that Russia Coach Leonid Slutsky would hand debuts to four players (Georgi Shchennikov, Igor Smolnikov, Roman Neustadter and Aleksandr Golovin) at the Stade Velodrome on Saturday night.
The first chance of the night fell to England midfielder Dele Ali, as the Tottenham midfielder latched onto an Adam Lallana knock down, however he didn’t catch the volley well and the ball skewed wide for a goal kick.
There was another chance for Hodgson’s side minutes later, as Extratime.ie Man of the Match Wayne Rooney switched a lovely ball to Kyle Walker, the Tottenham full-back eluded a couple of Russian challenges, before playing a short ball to Lallana, but he could only poke it down the throat of Russia net-minder Igor Akinfeev.
Five Tottenham players started for England on Saturday night and two of them combined on nine minutes to almost give the Three Lions the lead.
Raheem’s Sterling’s cross from the left was flicked on by Ali, however that flick just eluded the outstretched leg of lone striker Harry Kane.
Kane was to try his luck again moments later, but this time his effort came 30 yards from goal and his rushed shot sailed safely wide of the Russia goal.
Sergei Ignashevich became the first Russia player to threaten Joe Hart’s goal, as he met a free kick from the right wing. However, Hart was equal to it and regained possession with relative ease.
Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana had his second chance of the night to put England ahead after Walker played him in on goal. However, the 28 year-old would go on to shoot wide of the Russian goal frame.
Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling hasn’t endured the best of times this season. However, there’s no doubting his danger when he gets in behind his opponent’s defence. After 24 minutes, the winger did just that and it took a colossal challenge from Igor Smalnikov to deny the ex-Liverpool man an effort on goal.
A couple of minutes before the half hour mark, Kane had the ball in the net for England. However, the Spurs man was correctly flagged off-side after he’d been in an off-side position when Lallana played the ball through to him.
Five minutes later, England Captain Rooney advanced from his midfield position to volley straight at Akinfeev after some excellent work from Ali on the right.
The second half was nine minutes old when Russia suffered their first scare of the period. After some good play on the left, Sterling was clipped by Russian winger Aleksandr Kokorin. The set-piece, on the left hand-side of the area was taken by Kane, cleared only as far as the edge of the box where Dier played in Sterling, the winger’s effort went straight at Akinfeev, but the assistant referee spared Sterling’s blushes by raising his flag for off-side.
Moments later, England won a free kick 20 yards-out, Wayne Rooney stepped up to take it, but could only find the roof of the net with his rising effort.
On the hour mark, Russia mustered up their first real effort of the game, when Kokorin saw his effort deflected wide by Danny Rose for a corner. The resulting corner caused problems for Hart in the England goal, as he elected to palm the ball over the cross-bar after his teammate Eric Dier had flicked the ball goalwards.
The Russians could have taken the lead minutes later, as Fyodor Smolov cut in from the left, before seeing his curling effort palmed away by an outstretched Hart.
With 19 minutes to go Akinfeev had to first save from Rooney from close range before Sterling dragged the rebound wide when he really should have scored.
A couple of minutes later, Sterling’s blushes were spared, as Dier put England into the lead with a fantastic curling free kick from 20 yards after Georgi Schennikov took down Ali.
In the final 15 minutes or so, both teams exchanged possession, as England looked for a second while Russia looked for an equaliser, and it came in the second minute of stoppage time.
Schennikov’s rising cross from the right was headed over Hart by Vasili Berezutski to send England fans into despair.
England’s next game comes against Wales in Lens this Tuesday, while Russia face Slovakia in Lille a day prior.
England: Joe Hart; Kyle Walker, Chris Smalling, Gary Cahill, Danny Rose; Eric Dier, Dele Ali, Wayne Rooney (Jack Wilshere 78); Adam Lallana, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling (James Milner 89).
Subs Not Used: Tom Heaton, Fraser Forster, John Stones, Ryan Bertrand, Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Henderson, Ross Barkley Daniel Sturridge, Marcos Rashford, Jamie Vardy.
Yellow Cards: Cahill (62).
Russia: Igor Akinfeev; Georgi Shchennikov, Sergei Ignashevich, Vasili Berezutski, Igor Smolnikov; Roman Neustadter (Denis Glushakov 80), Aleksandr Golovin (Roman Shirokov 77), Fyodor Smolov (Pavel Mamaev 80); Oleg Shatov, Aleksandr Kokorin, Artyom Dzyuba.
Subs Not Used: Yuri Lodygin, Dimitri Kombarov, Oleg Ivanov, Aleksei Berezutski, Guilherme Marinato, Aleksandr Samedov, Roman Shishskin, Dimitri Torbinski, Artur Yusupov.
Yellow Cards: Schennikov (73).
Referee: Nicolla Rizzoli (Italy).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Wayne Rooney (England).
Josh Dolan is one of our Dublin based reporters, who also helps out with Extratime.ie’s administration tasks. <br /><br /> Josh, who was recommended to us by fellow reporters, joined the site as a teenager in the early months of 2014. <br /><br /> Since joining the team, Josh has covered domestic games up and down the country, as well as numerous Senior Men’s International games at the Aviva Stadium. <br /><br /> Before joining the site, Josh had journalistic experience in conducting audio and written interviews for the UCD AFC match day programme. <br /><br /> However, that wasn’t where Josh’s League of Ireland work began. <br /><br /> It was in late 2011 when Josh would spend two weeks with UCD as part of the equipment team during his Transition Year programme. And although, his work experience period was supposed to last for just that fortnight, he, to this day fulfils the role of Equipment Manager with the Students. <br /><br /> Outside of the League of Ireland, Josh is a schoolboy referee, a profession which he hopes will lead him to and beyond the SSE Airtricity League someday. <br /><br />