England went into this World Cup Qualifying game with high hopes and a great table position. Fabio and his men still have top spot in their Qualifying Group six and although the performance was not as confident and assured as the gaffa would have liked but after 20 minutes England managed to restore order and it was easy from then apart from the odd scare. As the team return from Kazakhstan, critics and fans alike seem to have been brought together for a brief moment after fears over qualifying for the World Cup in 2010 have been squashed, it seems.
England started the game on the same level as Kazakhstan and the Kazakhs were pushed along by the home crowd. The unbeaten status that England carry was in jeopardy though within the first minute when captain John Terry managed to block a Sergei Ostapenko effort. It was Ostapenko again who nearly provided the first goal but his header was ruled out for off side. This close call seemed to spur the England team on and from then on it was comfortable. Then five minutes before the interval, Gareth Barry scored a header from Gerrards cross. This was probably the icing on the cake for Barry after his move to Manchester City. Steven Gerrard was then involved for the second goal in first half stoppage time when his long ranged effort could only be pushed to Emile Heskey who couldn’t miss and England went 2-0 up, largely due to the work horse that is Steven Gerrard.
- Steven Gerrard was the shining light of a relatively average first half performance by England
In the second half England managed to play a bit better and they took control of the game. It was also time for Rooney to do something special. He was almost invisible throughout the first half but his beautiful over head kick after his first shot was saved was not only a great finish but it was also very quick thinking. After this spectacular effort from Rooney to put England 3-0 up the Kazakhstan resiliance was finally broken and it was just a formaility when Lampard scored Englands fourth from the spot after Heskey was pulled back in the box.
Croatia drew 2-2 with Ukraine which leaves England virtually unchallenged at the top of the table and leaves Croatia in a dog fight for second place. Belarus could catch the Croatians and so could the Ukrainians but as long as England beat Andorra tonight then qualifying will be a formality.
Robert Green: 6/10; Didn’t have much to do and made a mistake but should overcome the nerves for the game against Andorra.
Ashley Cole: 7/10; Great perfromance and didn’t have much to do because he caused the Kazakhs to attack the opposite wing.
John Terry: 8/10; Typical John Terry. A great captains performance and looked comfortable with his defensive partner Matthew Upson.
Matthew Upson: 7/10; A bit nervy up against Sergei Ostapenko but otherwise, a typically rugged performance from the West Ham defender.
Glen Johnson: 6/10; Not at his best and a few early errors haunted the rest of the game but his pass set Rooney through.
Frank Lampard: 7/10; Again, not his best performance but expertly finished from the penalty spot and again proving how important he is in the team even if he isn’t at his best.
Gareth Barry: 7/10; Early yellow card set him off on the wrong foot but played well and scored the vital goal that set up the win from England but not a special performance by any means but it was a good end to a busy week for Barry.
Theo Walcott: 5/10; Almost useless in the first half and correctly subbed by Fabio at half time but I think that there is still a place in the team for him.
Steven Gerrard: 7/10; Worked his socks off for the team and although he gave the ball away cheaply a lot his work rate was excellent and he proved that he is a valuable player to the team.
Wayne Rooney: 7/10; His persistence paid off after a first half of frustration he managed to score an innovative and beautiful goal all in one.
Emile Heskey: 6/10; Not the right partner for Rooney but did manage to get himself on the scoresheet and win a penalty but just not a good partner for Rooney.
Shaun Wright-Phillips: 7/10.
David Beckham: 6/10.
Jermaine Defoe: 6/10.
With the World Cup drawing ever closer can England maintain there flawless record? I certainly hope so!
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