England manager Roy Hodgson vowed that a looming Euro 2016 opponent will “pay” for his side’s domination of games but failure to score.
Hodgson, whose contract ends after the European Championship finals, admitted his frustration after the 0-0 draw with Slovakia that meant the team finished second in Group B behind rivals Wales.
“I have to say I don’t think we could have done too much more than we did -- we dominated the game from start to finish and had so many attempts and so many chances as well, and one day we’re going to put those chances away,” Hodgson said.
“As far as I’m concerned, I can’t fault the effort and the work the lads put in,” added Hodgson, who made six changes to his starting line-up for the match in Saint-Etienne.
“It’s a little bit embarrassing that we’ve played three games now and in each it’s been attack versus defence.
“I actually never thought I’d see an England team in a tournament be able to dominate three games as much as we’ve done, so that gives me some sort of satisfaction.”
“I’m pretty sure that sooner or later we’re going to make somebody, pay because if we keep dominating and creating chances like that we’re going to score goals one day.”
Wales won the group thanks to their 3-0 defeat of Russia, leaving England to face the runners-up in Group F in Nice next Monday, and possibly facing a quarter-final against hosts France.
Not afraid of France
“The way we are playing I’m not frightened of anybody,” the manager said in his comments to British TV.
But in a later press conference, Hodgson cut a frustrated figure.
“It’s disappointing that we had all the play and had all chances around their box, I can’t deny that, but we have players who can score goals and will score goals,” fumed the England boss.
“Yet again, this is a game we should have won, because everything we did on the field put us in a position to win, but we didn’t use those corners and freekicks to get the win.”
“It’s a frustration myself and the players will have to live with.”
Among the six changes in his starting line-up, Hodgson included Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge, who had scored off the bench in the 2-1 win over Wales.
The England boss baulked when asked if he had tinkered too much.
“The players who had been left out, came on,” he said.
“We finished with Vardy and Sturridge on (against Wales) and it was really positive, now they are just part of the ‘six changes’ and it’s a negative -- you can’t have it all ways.”
“We will be criticised for not taking our chances, I can’t do anything about that, but I think we will hit a team with a lot of goals.”
“We can’t just control matches for a lot of the games and pass the ball around.”
Hodgson congratulated Wales on winning the group -- albeit grudgingly.
“Russia had little to play for, but we congratulate Wales on winning the group, that’s a good effort in their behalf,” he said.
“We’d wanted to win the group, so finishing second will have to be okay for us.”
Hodgson said he would like to meet the French in the quarterfinals, if both teams progress that far.
“I have a great respect for the French team, but first of all we need to win the round of 16, I don’t count my chickens (before they hatch),” said Hodgson.
“If we do get them, I think it will be different to the games against Wales, Russia and Slovakia, as they will attack us.”
“That will give us a chance to show we are a good counter-attacking team, if a side wants to come out and have a go at us.”