England dominated Russia for large parts of the 90 minutes and when Eric Dier scored off a cracking freekick in the 73rd minute, it looked like they would get the three points they deserved. But, that opening match curse came back to haunt them again, as Vasili Berezutski struck right at the death to salvage a point for Russia and pile on the pain for England, who were left wondering just how they came away from this Group B match of Euro 2016 without a win, and that too a comfortable one.
With chance after chance failing to find that back of the net, it was looking like being a frustrating night for England in Marseille, with Russia showing their doggedness at the back and Igor Akinfeev his class in goal. But, up stepped Dier, thumping that football from 19 yards in such a manner that even Akinfeev could not get a hand to it.
However, it all went pear-shaped for England in the second minute of stoppage time, when Berezutski, a defender by trade, hung in the air like Michael Jordan before exercising those neck muscles of his to loop the ball over Joe Hart and in. The ball was going in anyway, but Denis Glushakov made sure of that, kneeing the ball into the net from the goalline.
It was all England in the first 45, but they had very little to show for it, with the likes of Adam Lallana and Wayne Rooney missing chances that should have been buried. With Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana coming in, there was a lot more pace in the England forwardline, and it showed as well with the team in white building up quite a tempo to their attacks.
While the reason behind choosing Lallana and Sterling was to take advantage of the slowish Russia backline, it was some nice one-touch passing that created the initial openings, with right-bac Kyle Walker playing a big part. Walker was the provider for England's first big chance, with the ball falling to Lallana inside the box after some good work from the fullback. Lallana controlled and caught his shot perfectly, but, unfortunately, for the England man the shot would go straight at Igor Akinfeev.
Rooney would do the same thing a while later as well, hitting a strike flush only to see it go straight at the goalkeeper. Lallana's other big chance of the half also came from a similar area, after a bit of brilliance from Dele Alli, but his shot, this time, crept wide of the post.
Russia, apart from a five-ten minute spell around the 30-minute mark, never really looked like controlling the match, with England using their pace out wide to create plenty of problems in the Russian defence.
The goal just would not come, however, and expectedly, Russia came out much stronger in the second 45. While chances were very much at a premium, possession was a lot more even in the early part of the second half, with Russia, knowing England's liking for quick attacks, slowing the game down considerably.
For all of Russia's control, though, England would create the chance of the half on 70 minutes, with Rooney, off a cross from Danny Rose, forcing a ridiculously-good save from Akinfeev, diving to his right, one-handed with the ball knocked onto the post.
When that Rooney strike failed to go in, that feeling of "Oh it is one of those nights, when the ball just won't go in," was pervading through the Stade Velodrome, but then came a freekick, just outside the box, won by Alli. Three Tottenham players – Alli, Harry Kane and Dier -- converged to discuss the plan of action, and after Kane dummied his strike, Dier curled one perfectly with power and accuracy to give England a deserved, much-awaited lead.
It looked like being the winner, but for the late Berezutski-inspired drama.