Sunday, October 14, 2007

England 3-0 Estonia

A good result, although it wasn't a particularly good game, with the scoreline helped in England's favour by a goalkeeping error, a deflected shot and a pinpoint headed own-goal. England started out reasonably well and had cruised to a three-goal lead within the first half-hour or so; after that they seemed to be happy to just pass the ball around as if it was a training exercise. Fortunately I had ordered a beer at halftime -- and that, combined with slagging off miscellaneous Chelsea players, kept me entertained for the remainder of the game.

Estonia certainly offered very little going forward, but on those rare occasions when they did get the ball into the box, England looked a bit suspect at the back. I'm sure part of that can be attributed to them spending the second half without a single one of their first-choice back line on the pitch (okay, maybe I'm stretching that with regard to Micah Richards, but even he was playing out of his usual position for England). Joleon Lescott, for one, had a less than impressive international debut, seeing as his first contribution was failing to cut out a high ball and forcing the intervention from Ashley Cole that ultimately led to his injury, and he was shunted over to left-back shortly thereafter.

As for England's attack: they had a grand total of four shots on goal, which I think says it all. It's hard to tell whether the partnership of Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney can work or no, but I think they'll have to improve for the game against Russia. They certainly weren't helped by the rest of the team playing so many long, high balls into the box, as if they were imagining that Emile Heskey was on the pitch instead of at home injured.

Steven Gerrard was generally the exception to this, but he's had years of experience with the kind of service that Michael Owen needs. Gerrard also had some decent opportunities to burst forward -- he'd obviously been given license to roam, with Gareth Barry holding the fort behind him -- but he gave away his best chance on goal by passing to Joe Cole instead of shooting. Barry, meanwhile, was solid albeit unspectacular -- although he was good enough to earn the man-of-the-match award (also known as "Suck it, Lampard").

Lingering questions of fashion:

  • What was up with the all-white kits? Aren't they supposed to wear navy blue shorts instead?
  • Why was Barry wearing #7 and SWP #8, instead of vice versa?
  • Just how atrocious was Andrei Stepanov's hair?

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