England 0, Slovakia 0: What We Learned From Goalless Draw

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint Etienne, June 20. Rooney came off the bench in England's 0-0 draw with Slovakia. Julian Finney/Getty

England's route to the Euro 2016 final was made a whole lot trickier after a goalless draw with Slovakia saw Roy Hodgson's men finish second in group B.

Despite enjoying more than 60 percent of the possession and sending 30 shots at Matus Kozacik in the Slovakia goal, there was no dramatic finish in Saint Etienne.

Here, Newsweek looks at what we learned from England's 0-0 draw with Slovakia:

Failures in front of goal

By the final whistle, four recognized strikers had taken to the field for England —Wayne Rooney, Jamie Vardy, Daniel Sturridge and Harry Kane.

More than 80 goals were scored by the quartet throughout the last Premier League campaign for their clubs but the prolificity they are so famous for couldn't be summoned against a stubborn Slovakian defense.

England will need one of its front men to rediscover that goalscoring form if they are to reach the latter stages of the tournament.

Set pieces

Ryan Bertrand and Jordan Henderson joined the list of England players on set piece duty in France.

In three games, England has seen at least six players given the role of delivering from the dead ball position.

Eric Dier's free-kick against Russia in the opening game proved to be a stroke of genius, but the rest left fans puzzled.

England's Chris Smalling in action as Ryan Bertrand, right, looks on during England's 0-0 draw with Slovakia. Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Tottenham striker Kane was given set piece duties first, meaning he was absent from the penalty area, while Rooney, Henderson and Bertrand followed.

Pressing high

We could have been fooled into believing Jurgen Klopp had played a role in England's tactics here.

England's Liverpool players, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson, were joined in a gegenpressing approach by the forwards and midfield that was worthy of Klopp's team.

It worked effectively as the increasingly impressive Marek Hamsik was nullified while England continued to probe the Slovakian defense.

Call for the captain

It wasn't so long ago that some were suggesting Rooney was fortunate to have a place on England's plane to France.

England's Jordan Henderson shoots at goal during England's 0-0 draw with Slovakia. Lee Smith/Reuters

Here, the only noise coming from the English contingent was demanding Hodgson bring Rooney off the bench. They got their wish after 56 minutes.

Rooney replaced Jack Wilshere in the center of midfield, after the Arsenal man had struggled to keep up with play in the first half in Saint-Etienne.

The usual craft and industry was injected into the England side with Rooney's presence but the clinical edge absent in the 1-1 draw with Russia eluded the Three Lions against Slovakia.

Expect Rooney to be back in the starting lineup when Hodgson's team takes to the field for the round of 16.

Vardy impact

It was everything we expected from the Leicester City forward. Deployed at the front of England's attacking three, Vardy sent panic soaring through the Slovakia defense every time he looked to accelerate, such is his pace famous around Europe.

But the 29-year-old's ethos, which was on display throughout last season at the King Power Stadium, was epitomized just before half-time.

Vardy used his pace to catch Juraj Kucka and fly into a diving tackle, which brought a roar from the appreciative England faithful.

England's Jamie Vardy, from left, Roy Hodgson and Dele Alli after the match. Max Rossi/Reuters

Where next for England?

European Championships first-timers Wales topped group B after recording a resounding 3-0 victory over Russia in the final game of the group.

This result, accompanied by England's failure to beat Slovakia, sees Hodgson's men finish runner-up in the group and will now play against the runner-up of group F.

Possible opponents include Hungary, Iceland, Portugal or Austria, with the game being played at 8 p.m. Monday in Nice.

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