Another unconvincing win for England last night (September 6) as Fabio Capello’s line-up failed to set the world alight with a barely retained victory against Wales in a qualifier for Euro 2012. At this point fans are awaiting any semblance of a justification for England’s position as the fourth ranked team in the world, and as they spent much of the latter 45 minutes resigned to defence it’s even more apparent that this squad’s hope of lifting the European Cup next summer is a lofty aspiration.
Ashley Young solidified his status as man of the season by capitalizing on a perfectly delivered pass into the box by Stuart Downing, and almost went on to add to his tally after whipping in a cross that just shaved past the far right post. However, England’s inability to improve upon their 1-0 led to Wales upping their game, resulting in a chance on an open goal that Robert Ernshaw incredibly missed.
England may now only need one point to qualify for Euro 2012, but based upon this performance their trip to Poland/Ukraine will be short-lived. Here’s what the experts, the press and the players themselves had to say:
Fabio Capello: “We suffered a lot in those last 15 minutes: we didn't play good passes, never pressed the ball and even when we played on the counter attack we did so without speed, no good passes, no movement of the ball. We played well only for the last 20 minutes of the first half, but we need to for the whole game. We need to be the 'owners' of the pitch.
We need to improve. We are playing better away than we are at Wembley, where our opponents play with more courage and aggression. But I'm happy with the result and, sometimes, it is the most important thing."
Ashley Young: “We set out our stall from the word go to get the three points. Obviously, it wasn't the best performance but getting the three points was what I think we deserved.
“It was great play by Stewart down the right and I found myself in the right position to finish it off.”
Wayne Rooney: “It's a nice to get the six points and more or less have one foot in the finals.
“They (Wales) played really well. Thankfully, we held on towards the end to get the win. We weren't at our best.”
Frank Lampard: "A lot of people expected us to win the game comfortably but, having seen Wales get a good performance at the weekend and coming here with nothing to lose in terms of the group, I think they were always going to give us a tougher game than expected.”
The Guardian: “Capello will surely not accept the inefficiency of his men or the difficulty they had in reacting to a challenge from their opponents that had not been expected. In its way this sort of night will have been more educational for England than a rampage to victory could ever have been.”
Independent: “"Fourth in the world, you're having a laugh," sang their (Wales) supporters. Some of their English counterparts booed at the end of the game. No one really went home happy, although at least (Gary) Speed knows his team are heading in the right direction.”
The Sun: “Only a point is needed in Montenegro for England to be in next summer's Euro finals. Sadly the prospect of lifting the trophy is a fantasy.”
Daily Mail: “Bulgaria and Wales are not good sides, Montenegro only marginally better. But come next summer's tournament in Ukraine and Poland there will be some decent opposition. Right now there remains much work to be done.”
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