by JAMES LING
England have never won an opening game in the European Championships, and that wait continues after the Three Lions began their campaign with a disappointing draw against Russia in Marseille.
Roy Hodgson’s men looked to have secured victory on 73 minutes, after Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier struck a wonderful free-kick finally get the better of Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
However, English hearts were to be broken when defender Vasili Berezutski looped a header into the far corner to steal a point.
With Wales securing a 2-1 victory over Slovakia earlier in the day, the pressure was on England to get off to a fast start, and that is what they did.
Lallana went close first, with a driven shot towards Akinfeev, who could only tip it over.
Sterling was next to get involved with a brilliant backheel to Danny Rose who drove a powerful low cross into the box that just evaded Dele Alli in the six yard box.
Despite controlling the game on and off the ball, England still lacked the goal they deserved.
And they were to be denied once again ten minutes before half time after Rooney’s volley was hit straight at the impressive Akinfeev.
Russia started brightly after the break, but their first real attempt on goal came from England’s Eric Dier after heading the ball towards his own goal calling on Joe Hart to just tip the ball over.
Following the scare, England were left scratching their heads on 71 minutes when Akinfeev once again denied Rooney’s low shot from the edge of the box onto the crossbar.
But just as England fans were left wondering if this will be their night, Eric Dier stepped up and whipped a fierce free kick into the top corner.
The three points looked secured with Hodgson bringing substitute Jack Wilshere on to ensure possession for England and run down the clock.
However with time ticking down and with just two minutes left to play, Berezutski arrived at the back post to head home and steal a point for his side.
The draw leaves England in second behind group leaders Wales, with the two sides set to meet Thursday in Lens.