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England 5 Croatia 1

Discussion in 'Sports' started by Mbonea, Sep 10, 2009.

  1. Mbonea

    Mbonea JF-Expert Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Joined: Jul 14, 2009
    Messages: 640
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    NOW that really was something to Cro about.

    Another thumping of Croatia, the team which dumped England out of Euro 2008 at Wembley two years ago, was the perfect way to qualify for the World Cup finals.

    Smiling manager Fabio Capello has proved he is no wally with a brolly.


    You cannot ask for more than a 100 per cent record of eight qualifying wins out of eight with 31 goals scored in the process.

    When the Italian was given his £6million-a-year job, part one of his task was to restore the nation's pride after the misery of the Steve McClaren regime and get us to the World Cup finals.

    Part two of Capello's mission is the hardest bit - to bring the trophy home. If England play like this it has to be possible.

    Yes we know we're not supposed to get carried away after so much disappointment in the past but the only point of going to the finals is to win the trophy.

    The personnel exists to do the job. The midfield double-act of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard is finally firing on all cylinders.

    They are showing they can play together after all and both men weighed in with two goals last night.

    Then there is Wayne Rooney, whose goal late on completed the rout.

    Can England win the World Cup?

    Rooney has notched an England record of nine goals in a qualifying campaign, making him one of the most feared front-men in the game.

    And if Spurs flier Aaron Lennon can produce this form on a consistent basis, he will scare full-backs to death.

    Lennon was absolutely electric and looked like he could give special guest Usain Bolt a serious run for his money as he ripped the visitors' defence apart.

    Capello used Croatia coach Slaven Bilic's comments about England "losing their Englishness" to fire up his team.

    He said Bilic had done his job for him and all he had to do was let the England players get on with it.

    How Bilic must have regretted tweaking the Three Lions' tail. England were out of the blocks so fast even Mr Bolt must have looked on in envy.

    As Bilic admitted, they could have been five up by half-time were it not for some superb goalkeeping by Vedran Runje and some dreadful finishing from Emile Heskey.

    All over the pitch England were first to the ball.

    Lennon has never nailed down a regular spot for his country.

    It has taken him over three years to get 13 caps and, until his second-half showing against Slovenia on Saturday, he was not guaranteed to start this game.

    For all that he has never been on a losing England side apart from the penalty shootout defeat to Portugal at the 2006 World Cup.

    While Theo Walcott had terrorised the Croats in the 4-1 win in Zagreb, this was Lennon's night.

    There was no debate about the penalty he won to give England an eighth-minute lead. As Lennon came in from the right at pace, defender Josip Simunic could do nothing except step across the little speedster and take him out.

    It was a cast-iron penalty and Lampard expertly despatched the spot-kick into the corner.

    It took a brilliant save by Runje from Gareth Barry's rasping drive to stop England adding a second.

    Croatia were without broken-leg victim Luka Modric and his absence was certainly helping England to run the show through midfield.

    But the home side were so dominant even a genius like Modric would have struggled to stem the tide.

    No 2 came on 18 minutes as Gerrard (left) swept the ball wide to Lennon.

    The Liverpool man continued his run into the box and rose at the back post to head home Lennon's deep cross.

    This was great stuff and the fans were lapping it up.

    A screamer from Lampard brought another fine save out of the busy Runje, who also denied Lennon after he had been released by a cracking through ball from Rooney.


    If there was a downside it was that Heskey still seems to play with a blindfold on when presented with a shot on goal.

    Lennon slipped him in and it seemed Heskey had to score but Runje saved with his right foot.

    And, on half-time, the Villa striker stumbled over the ball when Lampard set him up and Runje was able to block.

    On both occasions the TV cameras panned to Jermain Defoe, wondering what he might have done in a similar situation. The answer was simple. He would have scored.

    Shortly after the break, Croatia were grumbling about not getting a penalty when Glen Johnson climbed all over Eduardo as he cleared a cross.

    They had a case but maybe Eduardo's reputation now goes against him. To rub it in England added a third on 59 minutes with Lennon again playing an important part as he skipped across the pitch before feeding Gerrard.

    The ball was played out to Johnson and his cross was headed home by Lampard.

    Capello shook his fists in delight. He knew England were home and dry.

    The goals kept coming and after 66 minutes Gerrard headed a fourth after Rooney did really well to hook the ball back from the by-line.

    The Croats bagged a consolation seven minutes later. Goalkeeper Robert Green kept out Eduardo's first effort but spilled the follow-up from Darijo Srna and Eduardo slammed in the loose ball.

    But Croatia keeper Runje, who had been under siege, then mis-kicked a backpass straight to Rooney, who rolled the ball in to complete the destruction job.