Liverpool FC at Euro 2016: Sturridge's injury-time winner lifts England to victory over Allen's Wales

Daniel Sturridge spoke of the "beautiful feeling" of scoring an injury-time match-winner to lift England to the top of Group B of Euro 2016 courtesy of a 2-1 win over rivals Wales on Thursday afternoon, putting them in an excellent position to reach the knockout stages.

Liverpool FC at Euro 2016: Sturridge's injury-time winner lifts England to victory over Allen's Wales
(Picture: Getty Images)

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge struck an injury-time winner to help England to a crucial Euro 2016 victory over Wales in Group B on Thursday afternoon.

The 26-year-old was introduced alongside Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy in Lens at half-time and made a monumental impact as Roy Hodgson's men climbed above their rivals into the group's top spot.

England trailed at the break, having been relatively level throughout the first-half, as Gareth Bale's long-range free-kick got the better of Joe Hart to put Wales in front at the interval.

Half-time substitute Vardy pulled England level within nine minutes of being on the pitch, the ball fortuitously falling his way after Sturridge's cross into the box caused the Welsh back-line problems.

But it was the Reds' No.15 who stole the show in the 91st minute, exchanging a one-two before breaking into the box and managing to poke an effort past goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey to send the English supporters into raptures.

Joe Allen battles with Tottenham's Kyle Walker on Thursday. (Picture: Getty Images)
Joe Allen battles with Tottenham Hotspur's Kyle Walker on Thursday. (Picture: Getty Images)

Attacking midfielder Adam Lallana also played for 73 minutes, contributing a tireless performance on his 24th cap, while Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne remained as unused substitutes.

Having made his first full international debut in their first game of Euro 2016, goalkeeper Danny Ward dropped back to the bench for Chris Coleman's Wales but Joe Allen played the entire 90 minutes. Typically neat and tidy in the middle of the pitch, Allen was impressive although unable to prevent his country slipping to defeat.

"Beautiful feeling" to score winner in such an important match, says Sturridge 

It means that a Liverpool player has scored at the last nine tournaments England have competed in, but more importantly the result puts Hodgson and co. in control of Group B - with just one more game to play.

Sturridge, speaking afterwards, declared that he was "grateful for the opportunity" to get on the pitch and called it "a beautiful feeling" to represent his country "in a rivalry against another great country."

He acknowledged the "crazy" scenes after his late winner but warned that "no-one wants to get too excited" because there's still "one more game in the group." However, the striker - who now has six international goals in 19 caps - said: "There aren't many games where you get to experience an atmosphere like this and a togetherness as well. It's great to help the boys win the game."

The late goal will be a major boost to Sturridge's hopes of more regular football at the tournament, having arrived behind Vardy and Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane, who has so far disappointed and was consequently withdrawn at half-time in Lens.

Skrtel will captain Slovakia against England next week in the final round of group games. (Picture: Getty Images)
Skrtel will captain Slovakia against England next week in the final round of group games. (Picture: Getty Images)

Indeed, it puts Sturridge in contention to start for their final group game when the Three Lions take on Martin Skrtel's Slovakia in Saint-Etienne. The defender, who looks set to seal a £5.5 million move to Fenerbahce this summer, captained his side to a first-ever victory at the European Championships against Russia on Wednesday. 

Their head-to-head record with Wales leaves them third in the group, although victory over England would guarantee their place in the knockout stages.

Of the remainder of Liverpool's representatives in France, Divock Origi will hope to get more minutes for Belgium on Saturday when they take on Republic of Ireland. Looking to bounce back from an opening defeat to Italy, Simon Mignolet and Christian Benteke are expected to once again start from the bench.