Wayne Rooney believes England manager Roy Hodgson deserves praise for his attacking substitutions in the 2-1 win over Wales.
England were trailing at half-time in Lens to Gareth Bale’s 35-yard free-kick and were staring down the barrel of a costly Euro 2016 defeat when Hodgson took action.
He sent on Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge at half-time, in place of Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane, and saw the pair combine to score both of England’s goals.
By the time Sturridge sealed the points in injury-time, Hodgson had also gambled by throwing on 18-year-old Marcus Rashford for a first competitive appearance.
“Great credit to the manager,” Rooney told BBC Radio Five Live.
“He saw the way the game was going and made changes at half-time.
“It isn’t always easy to change players at half-time but he’s done that and it paid off for us. He deserves full credit.”
Hodgson’s tactical switches in the 1-1 draw against Russia had been less adventurous, sending on Jack Wilshere and James Milner in an unsuccessful bid to shore up a narrow victory while Vardy and Sturridge kicked their heels.
But having embraced a more attacking outlook, Rooney felt the result was always going to come for England.
“You could sense it,” said the captain.
“I’ve played a lot of games, a lot of football matches and you have that feeling. You know something will happen.
“We kept probing and kept knocking on the door and thankfully Daniel got a goal for us in the end.
“We dominated really from start to finish. We’d conceded against the run of play, which was disappointing, but we showed great character and belief in ourselves and trust in our team-mates.”
The British derby had been preceded by some unusually provocative words from the Welsh camp, not least Bale’s questioning of England’s desire.
But Rooney has refused to rise to the bait and wished Chris Coleman’s side luck for the remainder of the competition.
“It was a hyped up game, if you like, but now we’ve come out on top so we’re delighted,” he said.
“I said before the game we respect Wales as a nation and as a football team. We know what they’ve done has been incredible, to get to the tournament.
“We wish them well, I hope they get out of the group and go far.”