Thursday, 10 September 2009

England step up a gear against Croatia


England responded to the Wembley roar with an emphatic 5-1 win over poor Croatia.

Fabio Capello's charges qualify for next summer's World Cup Finals with a 100% record. Eight matches, eight wins. Unlike the last time we faced Croatia; the rainy, gloomy 3-2 reverse which knocked us out before EURO 2008, England played without fear.

The Croats were reduced to pass-and-move training monkeys. They had no response to the all-out fight, commitment and desire of a team which their coach Slaven Bilic had described before kick-off as "flawed" and "lacking Englishness".

Are you 'avin' a larf, sunshine?

What was so impressive was our organization and discipline. Every player knew his role and while some might criticise Capello for stifling flair, no one can argue with the growing sense of purpose and command England have these days.

We're not blessed with a huge pool of striking talent these days, which is why it's so important goals come from midfield. A brace each for Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, while Aaron Lennon was Man Of The Match.

But England's World Cup work in progress must extend to defence. We still have occasional lapses of concentration at the back. Conceding against both Slovenia and Croatia shows we could be well and truly punished by bigger and better teams.

But make no mistake, we qualify for South Africa with strength and vigour and with the hallmark of Capello running through the whole team: "you don't have to like me, you don't even have to respect me, you just need to do as I say!".

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