Jermain Man! England Over The Line… Just.

by Michael Somerville

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
 

England produced an much improved performance to qualify for the World Cup group stages. It could have only got better couldn’t it?

England endured a predictably nervy start to their vital game against Slovenia but looked far more imposing in the first 10 minutes-more reminscent of their successfull qualifying campaign. Although England were rushing their passes in midfield- in particular Gareth Barry and James Milner; the more senior players were proving to be leaders when it counted. John Terry threw himself in front of an early Zlatan Ljubijankic shot that was certainly goal bound as Slovenia offered a decent attacking threat.

Wayne Rooney was finally beginning to deliver some sort of understanding with the likes of Gerrard and Lampard as the England fans urged England on.

England did break the deadlock when Jermaine Defoe crept in to guide James Milners’ brilliant cross with his shin from 5 yards in the 22nd minute. It was the first time that Defoe had scored whilst in partnership with Wayne Rooney for England and was his 12th goal for England. The relief was apparant, but England still had a lot to do, with Slovenia looking fairly handy when coming forward.

England continued to press the Slovenian back- line and Defoe had a powerful shot saved by Samir Handonovich before Rooney dithered, but managed to play in Steven Gerrard whos shot was well saved by the Slovenian keeper. Gerrards shot squimed agonzingly across the 6 yard box but the Slovenian keeper quickly pounced on the loose ball.

Defoe continued to be a willing runner up front for England, but you always felt that he was feeding off the long ball…scraps if you will. His excellent first touch that we see week in week out in the Premier Leauge was missing today, but his vital goal gave England great confidence and settled the nerves.

Defoe’s height counted against him just after the start of the second half as Rooneys quick thinking from the corner threw the Slovenian defence into disarray. Defoe was onside but Rooneys’ pass just evaded Defoes stab towards goal.

England continued to press as in the first half and Defoe had the ball in the net after linking up well with Wayne Rooney but was offside. England were forward thinking, disciplined and yes, creative.

It wasn’t a classic, vintage performance from England but it has certainly lifted the gloom that has enshrouded the coutry since last Friday.

Wayne Rooney was having a much better time of it- coming alive whenever Gerrard made any scintillating driving runs down the left.

John Terry had a strong header saved by Handonovich from a header just before the hour mark and soon after, Wayne Rooney unluckingly hit the post after a cracking fingertip stop by the ever impressive Slovenian keeper. Rooney was desperately trying to score his first England goal in seven games but was withdrawn for crowd favourite Joe Cole with 20 minutes left to play.

There was to be no room for any showboating, this was all about grit and determination from the England team.

It was such an encouraging performance from England, but nerves continued to be ever frayed. New boy Matthew Upson and experienced David James were playing well, but the terrible pitch that occupied James’ penalty area was doing nothing to calm the nerves.

And anxieties were streched to breaking point after Gareth Barry gave the ball away as Kirm, Dedic and Birsa all had great chances to score in the penalty box but John Terry was there to thwart their efforts with several heroic sliding blocks.

Wayne Rooney was nursing a slight injury and made way for Joe Cole who earned a standing ovation from the magnificant England supporters. Cole has been touted by many, to be the man to link midfield with attack and to be that ‘spark’ that England have been lacking so far.

Slovenia continued to test England nerves with the set piece and Matthew Upson produced a heroic last ditch tackle to ensure England progressed.

It was so heartening to see the England players putting themselves on the line for their country; but a limited Slovenia team still gave England and Capello plenty to think about.

Knockout football starts here.

Brace yourself.

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  • http://dexysden.com Bill

    I thought England looked very strong between the 10th minute and half-time. Though they only scored one goal, they had many chances, and dominated possession. If they play like that, they many have a (small) chance to upset Germany in the Round of 16

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    that’s more like it! best we’ve played in ages. We played as a team, Milner was brilliant, superb crosses.

    Upsons tackle was up there with Bobbies!!!

    Bring on the Germans

  • Daniel

    Good report. Thought Gerrard and Milner had great games. Good to see england finaly playing with the confidence and creativity they are capable of.

  • Mike

    Bring on ze Germans indeed. Still worrying about the lack of a good defensive mid. Barry wasn’t very good today. A better team would have punished us with the chances that Slovenia had.

    Where is Owen Hargreaves when you need him!?

  • stevie

    Barry didnt have his best game neither did Glen Johnson, slight concern against better opposition, but we won and that’s all that counts.

    Milner could be our little surprise package, Walcott, Lennon & SWP, watch and learn, as that’s a wingers job!

  • JJ

    who cares, we won and played very well! a 1-0 scoreline flattered them, a 3-0 would have reflected our performance.

    You dont win a world cup at the group stage, beat Germany and we can start to believe!

  • dexylongshot

    In Fabio we trust, I said it from the start. We have a real chance with him. Bring on Der Kaiser and co.

  • dexylongshot

    Looking at the poss routes, it could be Germany, Argies, Spain and Brazil, easy peasy eh!

  • Mike

    The Argies will completely do us unless we improve in every game. Barry will have to be on top form to keep Ozil quiet but Ledley will have to keep himself fit throughout if we are going to beat the Germans.

    Have loved Beckenbauer’s mind games leading up to this game- really looking forward to it!

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