MARSEILLE: Wayne Rooney insists England will not focus on Gareth Bale’s threat when they look to bounce back in Euro 2016 against Wales on Thursday.
England was stunned by a late equalizer by Russia in Marseille in their opening Group B match. England center back Gary Cahill called the 1-1 result “a kick in the teeth”.
A young England side looked to be heading for victory at the Stade Velodrome when Tottenham’s Eric Dier beat Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev with a superb 20-metre free kick.
But three minutes from the final whistle, Russia captain Igor Berezutski stunned the stadium when he rose above the England defense to send a looping header over goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Two years after their first-round exit from the 2014 World Cup, England will now have to bounce back against a Welsh side that beat Slovakia 2-1 earlier in the day.
Real Madrid star Bale also scored a stunning strike in the win. Fresh from helping the Spanish giants to Champions League victory, he is expected to be the danger man when the sides meet in Lens.
Manchester United veteran Rooney labeled Bale as “one of the top five players” in the world, said England will not concentrate on the Welsh winger.
“We have to stop other players, you can’t just focus on Gareth Bale. We’re not going to double team him,” said Rooney.
“We have to just think about the next game, and playing the same way we did tonight, on Thursday.”
England manager Roy Hodgson handed five Tottenham players their tournament debut, leaving Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy on the bench.
But despite bossing Russia for long spells, England struggled to find the net in a dominant first half that saw Adam Lallana drill wide of Akinfeev’s post and Rooney testing the Russian goalkeeper with an impressive volley.
Although Russia came fighting back in the second half, the game turned 13 minutes from the end when England won a free kick on the edge of the area after Georgi Shchennikov’s foul on Spurs midfielder Dele Alli.
Dier sent England’s rowdy fans into raptures when he stepped up to fire into the top corner of the net to score England’s first free kick goal in a major tournament since David Beckham scored against Ecuador in 2006.
Man-of-the-match Dier admitted watching Beckham over the years had inspired him to perfect his dead ball technique.
“Obviously he was one of the best at it,” said Dier. “I’ve seen lots of his free kicks and it’s something I like doing and have practiced a lot.”