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Liverpool Players Make a Splash in Euro 2016 Group B Openers

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Liverpool players took the pitch for three out of the four Group B teams on Saturday.

Stu Forster/Getty Images

For those Liverpool fans tuning into this year's European Championship to see how the Reds fare, Group B is the place to be.

Saturday kicked off with Joe Allen and Danny Ward's Wales taking the pitch against captain Martin Skrtel's Slovakia. Allen was a lock for a starting place in the midfield, but Ward was a surprise after first choice goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey suffered a back injury on Friday. The young keeper did quite well after getting thrown into the deep end, helping to martial the defense to a 2-1 victory over Slovakia.

The game began frantically when on three minutes in, Marek Hamsik beat Ward and the whole Welsh defense, only to be denied a certain goal thanks to a desperate goal line clearance from Ben Davies. However, despite the warning shot, it was Gareth Bale who opened the scoring ten minutes in with an excellent, swerving free kick that fooled keeper Matus Kozacik. It was a nervy next twenty minutes for the Welsh, until Martin Skrtel Skrteled in the box, throwing an arm at Jonny Williams and somehow escaping what could have been a red card without a scratch. Wales would come to rue this decision in the second half when substitute Ondrej Duda leveled the score on his first touch after coming on.

It looked like this one was headed towards a draw until the 81st minute when Aaron Ramsey beat Skrtel and lucked into a scuffed shot finding the feet of Hal Robson-Kanu, who snuck it into the back of the net.

Though he didn't get his name on the scoreboard, the Welsh Pirlo lived up to his nickname, putting in a man of the match performance for his country that will have Liverpool fans sad at the thought of him possibly leaving this summer.

On the team's performance, Allen said, "The team was brilliant. To go one up and get back into it was brilliant. That's what this team is all about, digging in and hanging on to it. From start to finish, the fans were immense. They stayed loud and that helps you get an extra five, ten percent which makes all the difference."

In Group B's other match, England took on Russia in a lopsided match that saw England miss several excellent chances in the first half.

For Liverpool, only Adam Lallana made Roy Hodgson's starting XI, while Daniel Sturridge, Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Henderson, and James Milner were on the bench. Lallana had a strong performance, unfortunately being one of those responsible for a few good chances in going astray.

Despite that, England kept Russia on the back foot the whole way through, and in the 73rd minute were rewarded when Eric Dier connected on a gorgeous free kick to the top left corner of the net. It seemed like England would be taking three points into the next game against Wales, until Vasili Berezutski headed in a corner late into extra time, converting Russia's second shot on goal. In the end, England gave up two points and the teams split the spoils.

Former Liverpool player Raheem Sterling had a disappointing performance, looking largely ineffective trying to connect with England hero Wayne Rooney on the left. Both were substituted by Hodgson late in the second half, with Jack Wilshere replacing Rooney and James Milner coming on for Sterling at 85 minutes, just in time to see Russia equalize. Somehow, neither one of Daniel Sturridge nor Jamie Vardy were deemed necessary by Hodgson for this match, which was a bewildering choice from the England manager when the game was scoreless all the way through the 80th minute.

Wales now lead Group B, with England and Russia tied in the middle, and Slovakia propping up the bottom. Group B teams play again on Wednesday and Thursday.