What was meant to a fairytale game in which Capello proved his worth in a mediocre challenge turned into a draw salvaged in the 90th minute.
It was far from convincing. Loose, unsurprising and fairly dull football but maybe a measure of Capello’s success to far. Before the game, Capello had stated he would not experiment because it was time to deliver. Quite right since the England players have had walks in the park against Trinidad before this game. Wayne Rooney was used a striker, dropping deep, collecting and running. An innovation which allowed Heskey and Defoe to battle it out to partner him, each having a half.
Capello had hoped for a first competitive win but was forced to be pleased with a salvaged, hard fought draw that saw a few individual performances shine. Wes Brown cancelled out Milan Baros’ opener and substitute Joe Cole then struck a late equaliser after Marek Jankulovski had again given Czech Republic the lead.
The Czechs were in front on 22 minutes when a Baros strike from 10 yards deflected off Ashley Cole to wrong-foot David James, making his 40th appearance in the England goal.
England, though, were level one minute before the interval as Brown climbed the highest at a David Beckham corner to power a header past Czech shot-stopper Petr Cech for his first international goal.
However, parity was to remain for only three minutes of the second half as, with James motionless, midfielder Jankulovski curled Czech Republic back into the lead with an exquisite left-footed free-kick.
The warning signs had been put in place, the Czech side were playing with a fluid formation that sprung attack upon attack on England. Thankfully, the game wasn’t full of notable chances and the Czechs were not as dangerous as first thought.
England, under the full-time captaincy of John Terry, looked to be heading for defeat, but Joe Cole was the saviour as he scrambled in from close range in time added on.
Capello goes into next month’s qualifiers against Andorra and Croatia on the back of victories over Switzerland, USA and Trinidad and Tobago, defeat to France and this unconvincing draw.
|England||Team Statistics||Czech Republic|
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|9||Shots on Target||4|
|1||Shots off Target||5|
Capello remained upbeat and explained that this was the build up to a “fruitfull qualifying campaign” despite Cole saving his blushes in the last moments of the match. Despite not winning, fans will remain in confidence due to Capello’s bulging CV but expectation will rise when England kick off their qualifying.