Deadly Defoe Sends England Through

24 06 2010

England progressed to the last 16 of the World Cup with a narrow victory of Slovenia in Port Elizabeth yesterday. Jermain Defoe’s 12th international goal was enough to put them through, albeit as group C runners-up. USA striker Landon Donovan’s 91st minute winner sent the USA from third place, meaning elimination, to top of the group to set up a last 16 tie with Ghana, leaving England to battle it out with old enemy Germany on Sunday afternoon.

After a disappointing goalless draw with Algeria in the previous match, Fabio Capello made three changes to his starting eleven. With Jamie Carragher serving a suspension, Matthew Upson came into the side to partner John Terry at the heart of the defence whilst Aaron Lennon and Emile Heskey were dropped to the bench in favour of James Milner and Jermain Defoe. It was Milner and Defoe who combined to give England what would turn out to be the winner in the 23rd minute. Some clever play on the right-wing allowed Milner the space to deliver an exquisite cross for Jermain Defoe to finish. Milner found himself in good positions throughout the game but this was to be the only of his nine crosses to find a team-mate.

England played some lovely football with Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney combining well on numerous occasions to create chances for themselves and for others. Gerrard should have given England a more comfortable lead on the half-hour mark but his shot was well saved by Samir Handanovič. There were chances to further England’s lead for Frank Lampard who’s rebounded effort was sent wide, whilst Wayne Rooney beat the offside trap after a delightful through ball by Lampard, only for Handanovič to tip his effort onto the post in the 58th minute.

England had to defend doggedly at times with goal-bound efforts blocked by Glen Johnson, Matthew Upson as well as two courageous stops from John Terry. This type of fighting spirit is the sort that will endear the players to the hearts of the fans once more.

Credit must be given to Slovenia for the way they went about approaching this match. With a draw enough to send them through, they opted against a defensive mentality in favour of continuing the type of attacking play that saw them sit atop of the group before kick off. They had few chances and were often left to resort to shots from distance. Valter Birsa tried his luck on a couple of occasions, but his efforts were comfortably dealt with by David James.

The three minutes of added time felt longer than the fifth set between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon but England managed to weather the storm to record their first victory of the tournament.

The victory lifted the spirits of players and fans alike with the joy of qualification etched on the faces of the players when the full-time whistle blew. A tricky tie against Germany awaits them on Sunday.

Mark Jepson

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One response

24 06 2010
Achalv2.0

Well Done, Mate. 🙂
Keep it up.
Since you said that our blogs were somewhat similar, I couldn’t help but Visit it and check it out. 🙂

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