"Bitter pill' for Hodgson as Russia hold England
England coach Roy Hodgson said he was "bitterly disappointed"
after a late leveller by Russia captain Vasili Berezutski ended his side's
hopes of a perfect start to their Euro 2016 campaign on Saturday.
An impressive England looked to be heading for victory in their opening
Group B fixture after Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier fired a 20-yard free
kick past Russia's veteran goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev with 13 minutes to
But three minutes from the final whistle Berezutski rose high above the
England defence to send a looping header over 'keeper Joe Hart, the ball
already over the line before Denis Glushakov slammed it into the back
of the net.
England came to France with their youngest squad at a major finals since
the 1958 World Cup and Hodgson admitted he was buoyed by a performance
that will give fans hope before further group games against Wales and
But when asked his reactions to the result, the 68-year-old said: "You
can guess really, the same emotions as the players. To say bitterly disappointed
is an understatement.
"We got so close to a victory that would have been a deserved victory.
So to lose it in the final minutes, it's a tough pill to swallow."
England players walked off disconsolate while there were more scuffles
in the Stade Velodrome as fans left, adding to pitched battles which left
31 injured in the Marseille port district earlier. One Englishman was
left in a critical condition in hospital.
Hodgson distanced himself from questions relating to the violent clashes,
leaving that to a spokesman for the Football Association.
The spokesman admitted the FA were "terribly disappointed" and
called on the "relevant authorities to identify those involved".
Hodgson said the incidents, some of which left fans bloodied and battered
in the hours leading up to the 9.00 pm (1900 GMT) kickoff, had not affected
"We were aware of them and they didn't have any affect on the game,"
Russia coach Leonid Slutsky, meanwhile, was even more coy when asked his
reaction to the off-the-field incidents.
After the final whistle dozens of Russian fans charged a section of the
stadium containing England fans, prompting concern the Russians could
face sanctions from UEFA, European football's governing body.
The fans also set off flares, which is against UEFA rules in the stadium.
Slutsky played down the incident, saying: "I don't know what's gone
on today. We were focused on the game and don't know all the details of
the incidents in Marseille.
"But clearly it's not the best thing for football."