It was job done as they say as England laboured past a 9-1 Lithuania formation. You would think some of these guys had a gruelling season the way they meanded around a crisp looking Wembley pitch.
It was a lacklustre performance that will get its plaudits, as a 2-0 win is effectively job-done! There was no sense of urgency, the lone striker in Defoe, in the 4-3-2-1 formation looked lively as did his two supporting talismen. The back four were solid and coped adequately but the midfield were devoid of ideas. If this was Spain you could see where England would be punished, huge rafts of open space that would have a Spanish forward dribbling with anticipation and not with his feet!
With Chamberlain showing his season in a nutshell and devoid of ideas, the next game cannot come soon enough and a return of Henderson or even James Ward-Prowse to fill the intellectual gap. Eric Dier sat in his preferred role of a back three formation would add the needed impetus to a midfield looking for a leader!
Rooney is some way off this role and whilst he’s hoping that 2018 will be his final swan song it’s looking increasingly likely that may not happen.
It was Defoes first goal in just under 4 years for England and 7 years at Wembley but his 20th England goal and worthy of the plaudits hit deserves if not spectacular. As Sterling burst through and pulled the ball back there was an increasing queue to bang it into the net with both Defoe and Ali favourites. Fortunately it was the former who created his landmarks today.
There was a shock just before half time when Hart came rushing out of his goal to be beaten to it by Valskis to nod into the empty net. Fortunately Stones was already proof reading the scenario and easily, with tongue in cheek, able to clear off the line. All proving the potential catastrophe is still there when there is miscommunication at the back when Hart is involved. Hart must be relishing the role of Captain after being loaned out by his beloved City to Torino for the season but he needs to eradicate these rash decisions from his game, otherwise a few more supporters are going to be biting nails when it’s a crunch game in the last 10 minutes!
Southgate needed to make changes as the game was still stuck in 1st gear and Vardy and Rashford made their entrances. The second goal came soon after when Vardy latched onto a smooth one touch pass from Lallana inside the box to slip it past the Lithuanian keeper to make it 2-0. Vardy to be fair could have at least one more if not two but Lithuania camped out on the edge of their box in a damage limitation excercise that wasn’t going to win them any sexy football prizes.
Both the subs looked sharp but as a World Cup Qualifier, Southgate could not experiment. Thus the likes of Redmond, Ward-Prowse and Barkley remained on the bench. Their speed of pace could have had interesting consequences for the Lithuanian defence but their time will come.
Today was about Defoe and Vardy and rightly so Defoe was the England Man of the Match for a goal he will remember but he game he will care to forget.