Sixth and seventh heaven
Wednesday, 10 June, 2009
Three Lions hit six goals against Andorra to make it seven wins out of seven.
Nicholas Veevers at Wembley Stadium
England completed a fine season for themselves on Wednesday evening, making it seven wins out of seven qualifying games by despatching of Andorra at Wembley with a competent performance.
Fabio Capello’s men know they are now within touching distance of reaching the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after this win took them ten points clear of second placed Croatia in Group Six with only three games to play.
Despite the difficulties faced by England fans with the transport to Wembley, almost 60,000 managed to battle their way to north London and they were rewarded with a good performance and six goals to cheer.
A brace from both Wayne Rooney and his substitute replacement Jermain Defoe, along with strikes for Frank Lampard and Peter Crouch were enough to see off the Pyreneans, who were left defending their goal for the vast majority of the game.
Capello spoke before the game of wanting a quick first goal and the players must have had those words ringing in their ears as they made their intentions known right from the off, and with Andorra immediately dropping all eleven men behind the ball, England were invited to attack.
There was almost an opener within three minutes too, when Steven Gerrard threaded a pass into the box for Rooney, who beat his man before seeing goalkeeper Koldo Alvarez make a fine save to tip it over the bar.
Rooney was even closer a minute later when Glen Johnson chipped a ball into the box, where Theo Walcott collected it and fired in a low shot. Alvarez turned it away from goal, but it ricocheted across the six yard box for Rooney, but he could only re-direct his header against the bar at breakneck speed.
It was a case of third time lucky in the fourth minute though, when Johnson crossed from the right and Rooney was there at the far post to guide a header home and get The Three Lions on their way.
Crouch should have added another in the tenth minute, when David Beckham’s free kick from the right picked him out in the box, but the striker headed over after doing well to lose his marker.
Gerrard then got in on the act, lashing a low shot at goal from the edge of the area but Alvarez scampered quickly across his line to make a save.
Andorra did manage to slow the game down for just less than ten minutes after that, but in the 29th minute England found a second goal, with the link-up between Johnson and Walcott on the right again proving productive. They traded passes into the area before Walcott pulled a ball back into the box for Lampard and he made no mistake by slotting a powerful side-footer past Alvarez.
Andorra’s first shot at goal came in the 33rd minute, when Sergi Moreno struck a left footer from 30 yards out which dipped just over the bar, although Robert Green was well positioned to make a save in any case.
Six minutes later and it was 3-0, when Rooney cleverly moved in front of Ildefons Lima to connect sweetly with Johnson’s centre and hammer home his second of the night to give England a comfortably half time lead.
Capello chose to make two changes at the break, with both Rooney and Gerrard making way for Defoe and Ashley Young respectively.
Defoe almost had a brace within four minutes of his introduction too, firstly shooting over from inside the box after controlling Walcott’s cross, before driving a low shot wide from an angle after Johnson played him through.
Crouch was unfortunate just before the hour mark, when he controlled a chipped pass from Beckham in the area only for a last ditch block from Andorran skipper Oscar Sonejee to divert his acrobatic attempt over the bar.
Walcott had a great chance to open his account for the evening in the 63rd minute, when Lampard’s stinging shot was parried by Alvarez straight out to the feet of the Arsenal man but his follow-up was under-hit and the Andorrans managed to scramble clear.
Defoe got his goal in the 73rd minute though, when Beckham played a short corner to Johnson and his cross to the far post was met by the head of the Spurs man who guided it home from six yards and it was also a hat-trick of assists for the Portsmouth defender.
He had a second two minutes later, when Beckham’s free kick was fumbled by Alvarez and Defoe was first to follow-up and tap home England’s fifth.
With ten minutes to go, Crouch finally got his goal when Defoe’s miscued shot deflected straight into his path and he knocked it past Alvarez from close range to make it 6-0 and complete the scoring.
Alvarez, in his final game for Andorra, must have been glad to have been taken out of his misery in the last minute when he was replaced by Josep Antoni Gomes in goal but he was afforded a kind reception by the home crowd, just prior to the final whistle.
So after what has been a terrific first full season for Capello, The Three Lions now know that a result in their next qualifying game against Croatia at Wembley in September could see them confirmed as one of the teams travelling to South Africa next summer
England: 1 Robert Green, 2 Glen Johnson, 3 Ashley Cole (14 Wayne Bridge, 63) 4 Steven Gerrard (15 Ashley Young, 46), 5 Joleon Lescott, 6 John Terry (C), 7 David Beckham, 8 Frank Lampard, 9 Peter Crouch, 10 Wayne Rooney (17 Jermain Defoe, 46) 11 Theo Walcott
Substitutes not used: 12 Paul Robinson, 13 Gary Neville, 16 Shaun Wright-Phillips, 18 Carlton Cole
Manager: Fabio Capello
Andorra: 1 Koldo Alvarez (13 Josep Antoni Gomes, 89), 2 Josep Manel Ayala, 3 Txema Garcia, 4 Oscar Sonejee (C), 5 Antonio Lima (18 Marc Vales, 47) 6 Ildefons Lima, 7 Sergi Moreno, 8 Marcio Vieira, 9 Fernando Silva (12 Julia Fernandez, 79), 10 Manel Jiminez, 11 Xavier Andorra
Substitutes not used: 14 Jordi Escura, 15 Victor Moreira, 16 Victor Rodriguez, 17 Genis Garcia.
Manager: David Rodrigo