England boss Roy Hodgson insists his side’s Euro 2016 campaign is not doomed despite drawing a blank against Slovakia and failing to seal top spot in Group B following a frustrating stalemate in Saint-Etienne.
The Three Lions, sporting six changes from the side which beat Wales last week, enjoyed close to 60 per cent possession and chalked up 30 shots but were unable to breach a resilient Slovakia defence.
A share of the spoils saw England progress to the last 16 but miss out on a potentially smoother route to the latter stages as Wales, who beat Russia 3-0 in Toulouse, usurped them at their group’s summit.
England will now face the runners-up of Group F, either Austria, Hungary, Iceland or Portugal, in Nice on Monday, and Hodgson asserted that he fears no other team in the tournament.
“We’re not doomed yet. I believe we will take our chances if the team keeps playing with intensity and domination,” said Hodgson.
“Finishing second in the group is a disappointment because we would have liked to have won it but we’re in the last 16 and, with the way we’re playing at the minute, I’m not frightened of anyone.
“Sooner or later we’re going to make somebody pay because if we keep dominating and creating chances like we are doing then we’re going score goals one day.
“It’s a little bit embarrassing. We’ve played three games now and in each of the three games it’s been attack versus defence. I don’t think I’ve seen an England team in a tournament dominate three games as much as we have and that gives me satisfaction.”
The clearest chance of an enterprising England opening came on 17 minutes when recalled striker Jamie Vardy hared onto a Jordan Henderson pass and outpaced defender Martin Skrtel, only to be denied by goalkeeper Matus Kozacik.
Full-back Nathaniel Clyne, like Kyle Walker in England’s previous two matches, was proving the Three Lions’ most prominent outlet and his low centre, fired towards goal by Adam Lallana, was repelled by Kozacik shortly after the half hour mark.
With Wales holding a commanding half-time lead against hapless Russia, England were facing the prospect of a second-placed finish in Group B and a near mix-up between Chris Smalling and Joe Hart did little to calm escalating tension.
Kozacik again thwarted England, turning over overlapping defender Clyne’s shot from a tight angle, while Hodgson responded by throwing on Wayne Rooney and Dele Alli before an hour had elapsed.
Within seconds a stretching Alli had an effort cleared off the line by Skrtel, while Sturridge later failed to convert a lofted Eric Dier pass, although ultimately there was to be no repeat of their last-gasp heroics against Wales.