England suffered late heartbreak on a day where football hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons once again.
Russia’s 92nd minute equalizer denied England victory and added more fuel to an already cataclysmic event.
The build-up to the game in Marseille has been overshadowed by violent clashes between rival fans and police over the past few days.
On Saturday, UEFA, the game’s European governing body, issued a statement condemning the trouble and those responsible.
“UEFA firmly condemns the incidents in Marseille,” it said in a statement. “People engaging in such violent acts have no place in football.”
While much of the attention has been on matters off the field of play, there will be added pressure on an England team which was left shellshocked by Russia’s late equalizer.
England’s ability to confound and frustrate is well documented but this latest chapter was spectacular even by its own standards.
Against a Russia side which offered little and threatened even less, England somehow contrived to throw away a wonderful opportunity to record victory in the opening game of the European Championship finals for the first time in its history.
And yet, for the first half of this contest it had played with a style and swagger which has so rarely been seen from an England team at a major tournament.
Wayne Rooney dictated the midfield, Dele Alli looked as if he had been playing international football for years and Eric Dier cut an authoritative figure shielding the defense.
But its failure to find a way through a stubborn Russian rearguard was frustrating.
Harry Kane, the scorer of so many goals in the English Premier League, had one of his quieter nights while Raheem Sterling appeared determined to squander his final ball at every opportunity.
In the end it was Dier, one of the defensive minded players, who found a way.
Dier, who enjoyed a hugely impressive season at Tottenham, curled home an exquisitely taken free kick with 17 minutes remaining to seemingly give England the victory it craved.
Frustrated for much of the contest, and thwarted by a brilliant save by Igor Akinfeev who had earlier turned Rooney’s fierce drive against the post, England could finally breathe.
It should have been the moment where it took control and exerted more pressure — but instead it fell back and allowed Russia to advance.
Russia, which had done little during the 90 minutes to suggest it was capable of an equalizer, threw players forward as time began to run out.
And with the game deep into stoppage time Vasili Berezutski strained every muscle in his neck to send a looping header over Joe Hart and into the far corner.
England, stunned by its concession, had no time to reply — the final whistle sounded seconds later.
“We’re disappointed because we played well the whole game — to give away the draw is disappointing,” Dier told ITV.
“It’s not down to inexperience, we just didn’t see it out in right way. But we didn’t lose. We’ve got to pick ourselves up again. We can take positives.
“The level was extremely high — the best I’ve been involved in with England. I thought we did everything right. It had it all from us apart from controlling it at the end.
“We’ve got to put this behind us.”
After a day where clashes had taken place outside of the stadium, more ugly scenes appeared to break out at the end of the game.
It is now possible that UEFA will consider punishing both countries for the incidents inside the stadium.
England’s next game is against Wales in Lens, northern France, on Thursday.