Caught Offside

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England 5-1 Croatia Player Ratings and Analysis

by Christian Bailey

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Qualification sealed in style.

It was a game that Fabio needed to win and a victory the fans wanted to see in order to shake off any nerves surrounding qualification for South Africa 2010, in the end it was a performance to remember by a side who must not choke next summer.

It was a near faultless display from an England side clearly reaping the rewards of being coached by one of the all time greats of the game, for it should not be underestimated the impact Mr. Capello has had on a side that was so poorly managed by Steve McClaren.

Some will point to the lapse of concentration that saw Eduardo netting a consolation but to focus on one blip would be doing the players a disservice. To a man they played with attacking intent and stuck by their guns and rarely took their foot off the pedal.

From the off it seemed clear that gearing attacks down the right where two supremly confident players were working fantastically well together in the form of Glen Johnson and Aaron Lennon and the Croatians were in a strangely subdued mood that led to them being torn apart by the rampaging wave of attacks. Steven Gerrard had his best game for England in a while scoring two well placed headers, Frank Lampard netted an easy brace and Wayne Rooney kept up his terrific scoring record for England, what odds now that he overtakes Bobby Charlton as the nationals top goalscorer of all time, after all he already has 25 of the 50 needed and is still just 23!

The defence did what it needed to do. Upson and Terry looked calm and composed at the back and Green had little to do. Glen Johnson as ever is a great full back to have when you want to fuel your attack but he was pretty decent on defensive duties and should have helped silence his few critics.

Aaron Lennon would probably nudge it for man of the match in my book, he is in the form of his life right now and is the kind of winger who scares the life out of defenders and has that trickery that could well be a joy to watch next summer.

England

Green 6 – Had little to do but probably the safest pair of hands at present
Johnson 8 – Rampaging runs and solid in defence
Terry 7 – Rarely troubled by a poor Croatian attack
Upson 7 – Worked well with Terry, an able replacement for Ferdinand
Ashley Cole 7 – Had less impact than most as England foraged on the right in large periods
Lennon 9 – Awesome display from start to finish
(Beckham) 6 – A few good touches, sure to get a start or two in remaining qualifiers
Barry 7 – Solid if not spectacular
Lampard 7.5 – Good display and a brace of goals to cap it off
Gerrard 8.5 – Great game. All over the pitch looking for options and was in the right place at the right time
(Milner) 6 – Barely got a touch after coming on
Rooney 8 – Kept plugging away and got his reward after Croat keeper sliced clearance
Heskey 7 – Played well but should have put one of his chances away
(Defoe) 6 – Ran around a lot but couldn’t seem to get into the action


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