England seemed to have won through Eric Diers goal when Vasili Berezutski equalised in trauma time to earn a draw for Russia in Marseille
There is not much more brutal in football than a last-minute aim and, for England, it was a numbing sense of disappointment at the final whistling. They have waited an awfully long time to win their opening match of a European Championship and the clock had ticked into its third minute of stoppage day when their chance to end that long run, stretching back to 1980, was wrenched from their grasp.
What followed was shocking in the extreme, with hundreds of Russian troublemakers storming the adjacent section of England fans, and Uefa will be under serious pressure to take action judging by the mix of violence and mass anxiety that ensued. It was a dismal style to end the night, with thousands of people fleeing in terror.
On the pitching there was a contrasting scene created by the two situates of players and their own reactions. For Russia, it was a mix of relief and exhilaration. For England, there was raw disappointment and the unmistakable sense they had blown it.
Roy Hodgson argued there were still plenty of encouraging signs and he was right, to a degree, even if it can never be a good sign when a squad are guilty of this form of carelessness. England had enough chances to make it a comparatively stress-free victory but it was not until the 73 rd minute that they ran ahead, politenes of Eric Diers free-kick, and it was a galling route to surrender that lead.
James Milner, one of Englands second-half substitutes, let Georgi Schennikov go past him far too easily to deliver the cross. The Russia captain, Vasili Berezutski, had managed to get in between Danny Rose and Dele Alli and his looping header was on its route into the far corner of Joe Harts net, nearly in slow motion.
Hodgson, describing himself as bitterly disappointed, must now decide whether to stick to his new 4-1-2-3 formation for the game against Wales on Thursday, but there will also be some difficult questions for the England manager. Yet again it was hard to understand why Harry Kane now takes the teams corners, but Wayne Rooneys substitution was even more perplexing bearing in mind he had played with distinction in his new midfield role and, perhaps most importantly, had the kind of experience that was needed late on.
Jamie Vardy was not involved at all, despite having the velocity to trouble an ageing Russian defence in the final exchanges, and the nature of the equaliser did nothing to scatter the hypothesi that Englands defense is too vulnerable.
On a more positive note, Rooney justified his selection in midfield and, for the most portion, England played with movement and fluidity. Hodgson had five players from Tottenham Hotspur in his starting lineup and Dele Allis early nutmeg on Roman Neustdter speedily demonstrated the midfielder would not be fazed in any way by his first tournament experience.
With Kyle Walker and Rose surging forward from the full-back postures, there cannot be many other sides in the competition to play with a more adventurous shape.
What England absence was the know-how to spare themselves the late ordeal when until that phase they were the very best side by some distance.
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