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Euro 2016: Wales tops Group B; England disappoints

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The first weekend of the European Championships has come to a close. There's been goals, controversy, and England blowing a lead in typical England fashion. So, let's take a look back on the weekends fixtures.

With Wales and England's group games kicking off, many Leicester fans were expecting Andy King and Jamie Vardy to feature.

King's Wales squad kicked off the Group B games, taking on a fairly ordinary Slovakia side. King started the game on the bench as manager Chris Coleman opted for Crystal Palace's Jonny Williams to create an upbeat attacking trio with Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale. The gamble paid off as Wales went on to win 2-1 in what was truly an entertaining fixture.

Bale opened the scoring in the 10th minute, converting a free-kick that Slovakian goalkeeper Matus Kozacik should have saved. Slovakia equalized in the second half through Ondrej Duda, who capitalized on some sloppy Welsh defending. Substitute Hal Robson-Kanu grabbed the winner in the 81st minute, making for a dramatic return to major tournaments after a 58 year absence and thrusting Wales atop Group B.

England kicked off their campaign in Marseille against Russia. After a fairly anonymous display in England's final warmup game against Portugal, Leicester's Jamie Vardy found himself dropped to the bench. England manager Roy Hodgson opted to use Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling in a more "attacking" approach.

Personally, if you want to go attacking, a 4-4-2 would be the go to formation, as anyone can tell you two strikers are better than one from an attacking standpoint. That said, I'm not Roy Hodgson, who seemed to jump at the opportunity to drop Vardy from his squad.

For the majority of the first half, this move went unquestioned as England quite simply dominated a Russian side that had completely forgotten to show up. Still, the Three Lions failed to capitalize on their chances, going into the break at 0-0 when they easily could have been up by 2 or 3.

Russia seemed to awaken for the start of the second half. The Russians began to create spells of sustained pressure in the England half. It was not enough, however, as the Three Lions finally broke through in the 73rd minute through a brilliant free kick from Eric Dier.

It all seemed comfortable for England as Hodgson opted to hold the lead, bringing on the experienced and more defensive-minded James Milner as Russia hunted for an equalizer.

Then in typical England fashion, a lapse of concentration allowed Russia to convert a rather lazy equalizer in the 92nd minute. Captain Vasili Berezutski headed home a ball past Joe Hart to knot the game at 1-1. It was a bitter end to what was an otherwise fairly bright performance, but some questions can definitely be asked of Hodgson.

First and foremost, why would you not play Vardy? The original decision to drop him from the starting 11 after a game in which no one played particularly well was a skeptical decision at best, but not playing him at all against an ageing Russian defence is a head scratcher.

In this scenario, wouldn't it be common sense to bring on one of the best counter attacking strikers in Europe when you know Russia's going to throw everything they've got at you to grab an equalizer? Apparently not if you're Roy Hodgson.

Sterling and Lallana both looked fairly bright in the first half, but had no end product whatsoever. Sterling ended up fading away in the second half and was eventually taken out of the match. Lallana on the other hand worked fairly hard, but he was far from clinical, failing to convert two excellent chances.

This result leaves England tied for second in Group B, with Thursday's game against group-topping Wales being a must-win. The pressure's building on Hodgson and it should be interesting to see what tweaks he makes, if any.

Either way, it was an interesting and especially frustrating weekend. Hopefully we'll get to see some of Vardy and King soon.