Raheem helps give England Hope
Sunday, 19 June, 2011
Goals from Hope and Sterling give England a winning start in World Cup.
By James Marshall in Pachuca
Click here to watch video highlights of the match on FIFA.com
England U17s made a winning start to the FIFA World Cup in Mexico on Sunday, as second-half goals from Hallam Hope and Raheem Sterling sealed a deserved victory against a plucky Rwanda team in Pachuca.
The Young Lions looked in control of the game from start to finish in terms of possession and chances created, but with the African opposition proving tough to break down and physically resilient on their World Cup debut, it was always going to be a tricky match and it took a clinical finish from Hope and a stunning late second from Sterling to clinch the three points for England.
England started the game well and dominated the first ten minutes of the game, with Everton’s John Lundstram, glancing a header just wide from a Jake Caskey free-kick in the early stages.
Sterling then came even closer with a fantastic effort, cutting the ball back inside past a defender before striking the ball brilliantly with only the wood-work keeping his shot out. A minute later, the Liverpool man tried his luck again, but saw his toe-poked shot hit the side netting.
Throughout most of the opening 20 minutes, Brighton’s Caskey continued to produce some wonderful set pieces which caused all sorts of problems for Rwanda. Another fine delivery found Hope at the near post and he almost opened the scoring for England, but was denied by a fantastic save from goalkeeper Marcel Nzarora.
England were unfortunate not to open the scoring again soon after, as Nick Powell used his strength against defender Michel Rusheshangoga, forcing himself into the box. The Crewe man was blatantly tripped in the area, but the referee refused to point to the spot after consulting his assistant and Rwanda were let off the hook again.
Sterling continued to cause Rwanda problems and just before half-time, he provided a great cross for Hope, whose header back across goal hit the Rwanda post for the second time in the first-half, leaving the Young Lions wondering how they weren’t in front at the break.
England started the second-half as they did the first, pressing and attacking Rwanda constantly. Sterling, a thorn in Rwanda’s side, delievered another superb cross to Hope who placed his header over the bar before the Everton striker went close again, forcing a fine save from Nzarora as he burst through on goal.
The key moment of the game came in the 68th minute though as Rwanda nearly found themselves in front when Andrew Buteera's 25 yard shot smashed the underside of the bar with Pickford well beaten and bounced out to safety.
It was the closest they had been to a goal in the whole game and England promptly made them pay with a quick counter-attack ending with Hope breaking clean through and calmly clipping the ball home to break the deadlock at long last for England.
Rwanda still didn't give up though and their work-rate and willingness to exert themselves in the tackle saw them keep England just about at arm's length from goal.
They hadn't been able to deal with Sterling throughout the game though and he sealed the points for England with a super goal as full-time approached. Cutting inside from the left, he drifted into the centre before placing a pacy shot right into the top corner, giving Nzarora no chance whatsoever.
It capped off a good start to the competition for England, who will now face Canada in their second group game on Wednesday.