England certainly don’t do things the easy way that’s for sure, but on Thursday afternoon they got the job done as Daniel Sturridge’s last second goal secured a 2-1 win over Wales; sending them to the top of Group B at Euro 2016.
Ahead of the game Eventmasters Corporate Hospitality Sports Ambassador Gary Newbon spoke with Everton and Wales legend Neville Southall along with ‘Big’ Ron Atkinson inside the fabulous Horton Suite at Birmingham’s Macdonald Burlington Hotel.
Southall is regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers of his generation and won a record 92 caps for his country as well as playing 578 games for Everton. While Atkinson has managed some of the biggest clubs in the country including Manchester United and Aston.
The pair both agreed before the match that there was no need for England to panic ahead of the clash. Despite conceding a late equaliser against Russia the performance was still a positive one.
The pair also spoke of the importance of Wales’s superstar Gareth Bale, the forward had already scored a wonderful free-kick in the opening game and Southall stated “He is just capable of those moments of magic. We’ve definitely got the best player on the pitch.”
While Atkinson said: “Man for man (with the exception of Bale) England are the better side and on paper shouldn’t really have a problem beating Wales.”
The duo continued to give a fascinating insight into the game and their careers. Southall predicting that the first goal was crucial “If Wales score first it will be a draw. But if England get it they will win.”
An excellent four course lunch was provided by the Macdonald Burlington Hotel with excellent service ahead of this hotly anticipated contest.
Menu – free range chicken and pistachio terrine, apricot jam and toasted crostini – Sirloin of Finest 21 day aged Scottish beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables – Sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and ice cream and Platter of cheese and biscuits.
Then it was time for the action to begin.
England recover from poor first-half to take vital three points in Euro 2016 Group B showdown
The first-half of the game in Lille was a tense affair with England dominating possession but without testing keeper Wayne Hennessey. Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling had England’s best opportunity but he turned Adam Lallana’s fantastic cross over the bar.
The lack of cutting edge from Roy Hodgson’s kept Wales in the game, who looked dangerous on the counter-attack. In the 43rd minute it was Chris Coleman’s side who took the lead and there was no prizes for guessing the scorer.
Real Madrid star Gareth Bale stood over a free-kick 35-yards from goal, his vicious dipping effort flew towards the bottom corner and Wales had the lead. Against the run of play, but it didn’t matter. England were suddenly staring down the barrel of another early-exit from a major tournament.
At half-time Hodgson made two attacking substitutions taking Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling off and replacing them with Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge. The changes certainly had the desired effect.
England began to move the ball much quicker and started to find gaps in the previously solid Welsh defence. After a period of sustained pressure the ball fell to Vardy in the box and the Leicester City forward did what he does best; reacting quickly to smash the ball past Hennessey and level the score.
The whole of the Horton Suite erupted. This was more like it from England.
Despite creating more openings England were unable to find that crucial goal. In the last seconds of injury-time the ball was worked well into the box and Liverpool star Sturridge was able to poke the ball in at the near post.
Sparking wild scenes of celebration. England’s campaign is back on track.
A fitting end to a fantastic day of hospitality, guest speaking and footballing action.