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Best To Worst: Ranking The Performances In England's Desperate Draw With Slovakia

Best To Worst: Ranking The Performances In England's Desperate Draw With Slovakia
By Gavin Cooney
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England's underachievement continues: they have drawn 0-0 against Slovakia to finish second in Group B, behind the Welsh side they slew last Thursday. Presumably inspired by his belated half-time changes in that game, Roy Hodgson began with a 4-3-3 against Slovakia, stationed between Jamie Vardy leading the line alongside Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge. Captain Wayne Rooney started on the bench. Without wishing to put too fine a point on it, it was a dog of a game. Here is how we ranked the English performances, from best to worst:

1) Eric Dier

Dier is a practitioner of whatever the opposite of nominative determinism is. His defensive solidity has long since been known, and tonight he showcased his rather excellent passing skills, pinging balls around the Slovak midfield with extreme disrespect. His ability to fizz a ball into a central player's feet was usually the point at which England fans briefly flickered with hope that their side might score, before the inevitable disappointment.

2) Nathaniel Clyne

Kyle Walker was one of England's outstanding players in the second half against Wales, but Clyne did a fine job of keeping the Spurs defender on his toes. A menace raiding up the right, linking up well with clubmate Jordan Henderson. A strong defensive performance undermined by Slovakia's suspicion of the concept of attack.

3) Jordan Henderson

Stationed on the right of a midfield three, Henderson ticked the boxes of a typical Henderson performance: eager to get on the ball, linking up well in tight positions with Clyne, Lallana and Sturridge, only for final ball delivery to ultimately disappoint. That said, he created England's two clearest chances, despite finding himself a target of the ceaseless angst of England fans.

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4) Adam Lallana

Worked hard, linked up nicely with his teammates, but ultimately ineffective. Lallana's proclivity for delaying attacks by turning back upon himself with a silky touch is occasionally beguiling and usually exasperating. The fact he is so high on this list is a testament to how little England looked like scoring.

5) Gary Cahill

Had virtually nothing to do, and didn't screw it up. Also didn't get booked.

6) Dele Alli

One of the few players in football who is given his full name by commentators on every occasion in which he touches the all. Came on a substitute, taking up some intelligent positions at the tip of the midfield diamond. He almost scored from a Henderson cross, only to see his effort cleared off the line by Martin Skrtel. Yet to explode upon this tournament in the way we know he is capable.

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7)Ryan Bertrand

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Had little to do defensively, spent much of the first half thrusting his elbows into the faces of Slovak opponents. Failed to offer much going forward.

8) Jamie Vardy

The game in which proves that Vardy moving to Arsenal may not be a good idea. Threatening in the first half, as Slovakia kept a high-line, and should have scored when one-on-one in the first-half. Slovakia then realised a point would be a good result in the second half as Russia meekly bowed before Wales, meaning they sat deep. In Vardy parlance, this meant there was no opportunity to find anyone chatting shit.

9) Joe Hart

Had nothing to do, apart from characteristic shouting and gesticulating. Chews gum with considerable ferocity.

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10) Daniel Sturridge

The man who made the difference against Wales was stuck on the right-hand side of the attack, and failed to make a similar impact from out wide. Instead of listing his few involvements, relive the goal against Wales set to the music from the Titanic:

11) Wayne Rooney

Having been 'rested', Rooney came on early in the second half for Jack Wilshire, and contributed nothing bar a couple of nice pinged passes. Anyone who thinks he is the midfielder who can take England far in this tournament should watch Luka Modric and Andres Iniesta over the next couple of days.

12) Chris Smalling

Like Cahill he had nothing to do, and he almost screwed it up: a second-half mix-up with Joe Hart from a Weiss cross would have allowed a sharper opponent to score.

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13) Jack Wilshire

Poor Jack. Failed to get on the all as often as midfield partner Jordan Henderson did, and was even more wasteful in possession than Henderson. Hodgson clearly likes him, but you get the feeling he is off the pace, and we may not be seeing him in the next round.

14) Harry Kane

Came on in the final 15 minutes for Sturridge, and failed to make an impact against a Slovakian defence marshalled uncharacteristically well by Martin Skrtel.

See Also: The Irish Starting XI That Should Face Italy And The One That Probably Will

See Also: Watch: Irish Fans In A Wonderfully Irish Stand Off With French Police

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