England subs spare Hodgson blushes with late win over Wales
(Jamie Vardy 55, Daniel Sturridge 90+1)
(Gareth Bale 42)
Roy Hodgson ran out of his dugout, hopping and skipping like a giddy schoolboy heading to the school canteen.
He punched the air, danced a jig and sprinkled the air with a little invective, knowing he had dodged a bullet with his name on it.
Until then, the England manager was just about done on Thursday night (June 17).
He would certainly be fired next week if England failed to make it out of the group stage.
Hodgson wasn't lucky - that doesn't do his great escape justice. Lottery winners are lucky. He was somewhere over the rainbow, knee-deep in a pot of gold and clutching the winning Singapore Sweep ticket.
Two desperate substitutions, two dramatic goals and one reprieved manager summed up an England victory that kept their Euro 2016 hopes alive.
Half-time substitutes Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge were the last throw of the dice from a dispirited manager as they succeeded in overturning Gareth Bale's stunning opener and ripping out Welsh hearts.
Chris Coleman's defiant Dragons didn't deserve defeat any more than the haphazard Hodgson deserved victory, but both teams are still alive in the final round of Group B fixtures.
The Battle of Britain continues. But it should've ended last night.
Hodgson picked an unchanged side. Of course he did.
He doesn't do revolution, rebellion or even mild upheaval. He plays safe.
As expected, he was too loyal to the old guard and unwilling to rest his panting young pups.
Raheem Sterling, for example, offered little against Russia to suggest he deserved to retain his position. On Thursday night, he did even less in the first half beyond sending a shot over from six yards.
But he kept his place and England stuttered, unable to break down Coleman's 3-5-2.
The Welsh manager adhered to his "soak and destroy" philosophy, but he's rarely accused of being defensive.
The onus was on Hodgson to use the superior resources at his disposal, but that would've involved some risk-taking.
So Vardy and Sturridge - the two players who posed a greater threat to the Welsh's plodding back three - started on the bench as Sterling and Harry Kane started.
The Tottenham striker's impact was negligible and after half an hour, Sterling suffered the boos of his own supporters.
Both men were substituted to spare themselves further punishment but by then, England were a goal down.
In the 42nd minute, Gareth Bale lined up a free-kick from a full 30 metres.
The strike dipped, swerved and flapped, but not as much as Hart's gloves, which appeared to be missing fingers.
With Hart broken, England looked a lost cause.
In the dugout, Hodgson stumbled across his misplaced backbone and made the switches that should've been made before kick off, swapping Sterling and Kane for Sturridge and Vardy.
This wasn't a tactical masterstroke - more like the act of a desperate manager out of options.
Still, his changes were at least rewarded.
The Leicester City striker equalised in the 56th minute, receiving the ball after a scramble in a congested box and swivelling to smash a shot past Wayne Hennessey.
A single moment of improvisation had surpassed poor Kane's cumulative efforts in the previous game and a half.
England drastically improved.
As the game drifted towards a messy draw, Hodgson went from tactical plodder to panic-stricken gambler with the introduction of Marcus Rashford in the 73rd minute.
After playing with one striker for the first 135 minutes of Euro 2016, England had three on the field for the final 17 minutes.
And, unbelievably, Hodgson got away with it in stoppage time.
With Sturridge, Vardy and Alli in their favoured positions, the trio swapped passes until the Liverpool striker wriggled free and sent England to the top of Group B.
All three should probably start in the decisive game against Slovakia.
Hodgson cannot rely on blind luck a second time.