Scousers Shine In England Win
Euro 2008 Qualifiers
Andorra 0 - 3 England
ENG - Gerrard (54min, 76min), Nugent (90min);
Under intense media pressure and fan's booing, Steve McClaren's side managed to brush Andorra aside as vice captain, Steven Gerrard, provided the goals and ammunition. After a embarrassing and lackluster first half performance, England manage to find inspiration from the player who so often, take the game by the scruff of the neck as he scored two goals and set up another.
Up against a team of part timers, whose total wages might not even be enough to pay the least paid English player's weekly pay, managed to frustrate the hell out of them and even though they have totally no intention to attack England, they were able to limit England to some long range effort in the first half.
With the chorus of boos at half time, it's clear that the English fans were restless, disappointed and unhappy.
Same goes with the players. The longer it took to break down Andorra, they began to show dissent and frustration sets in. A few niggly fouls here and stray arms there made it a difficult match to watch. The Andorran player's antics are particularly sickening as they rolled around the floor whenever contact were made.
The focus was on England's lack of sharpness upfront and yet again, the strikers fail to impress again. Wayne Rooney, who hasn't scored since the summer of 2004, looked particularly disinterested and was substituted off for Jermaine Defoe, who in turn scored a 'controversial' goal.
Andy Johnson, meanwhile, looked out of sorts and out of place. Although he had a couple of chances to turn and shoot, he was largely a peripheral figure throughout and doesn't look like a solution to England's problem.
But the saving grace is that the midfield looks more solid perhaps due to the absence of Frank Lampard and Gerrard being moved into his favoured central midfield position.
('That's two!' says Gerrard)
Aaron Lennon drifted in and out of the game far too much whereas Stuart Downing is just out of his depth. Time and again, he put in crosses that only manages to hit the first man and provided no width at all. Ashley Cole's 'couldn't care less' attitude doesn't help either.
As England huffed and puffed, Steven Gerrard gave hope to the Three Lions with a brilliant finish. Rooney intelligently flicked the ball towards his fellow scouser as he smash home the much anticipated first goal of the game.
But England were not able to find the rhythm and continued to toil on in search of the second goal as they know that winning it 1-0 will not make the fans any happier.
But Gerrard once again played centre stage as he manages to play a nice one-two with Jermaine Defoe before slotting the ball past the Andorran keeper.
With the license to experiment and finally some breathing space made available, McClaren threw on Kieron Dyer and also, debutant, David Nugent from Preston North End.
Dyer in turn, was lively and his pace caused the Andorran some trouble. Nugent, meanwhile, didn't look out of place and he should've scored his debut goal earlier. Lennon's cut back met his boot but it flew just inches wide.
But the Preston forward showed his 'goal poaching' ability by turning a Jermaine Defoe's shot into the net as the ball trickles past the goalkeeper's arms. It should have been counted as Defoe's goal as it already crossed the line before Nugent's touch but perhaps, it just makes the win look better with the new kid on the block scoring.
Otherwise, not at all a convincing win for England but not much should be expected from them. It's important that at current stage, they should go on to win all their group matches without having to think of the performance as Israel and Russia continue to pile pressure on them.
'It's only Andorra', you say. But at least somebody manages to step up and made it happen.