Yesterday’s Euro 2012 qualifying matches saw plenty of Premier League players in action, mainly in a less than impressive England squad that defeated Wales. Today’s “Daily Ticker” will cover the England vs. Wales match, wrap-up the international break, and much more.
England 1-0 Wales: Match Report
The Three Lions now top their group. Six points ahead of Montenegro, England have nearly qualified. However, they will have to be better than they were against Wales on Tuesday. Capello’s squad came out and played well to start. Lampard brought a little more experience to the squad in a jam-packed England midfield. Switching between a 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, and 4-5-1, Capello’s tactical decisions were questionable, especially when Stewart Downing and Ashley Young played on their weaker sides. Though the Italian showed why he is the boss and not I, as Downing’s brilliant step-over toward the touchline ended with a gorgeous right-footed pass to United’s new signing, Young, for the match winner.
England brought out the intensity Capello was looking for, but the squad faded, despite the substitution of lively winger Adam Johnson eleven minutes from time.
Downing contributed early, whipping in a few balls for Wayne Rooney and Ashley Cole to put a head onto, but it was his persistence down the right flank that earned him the assist.
Frank Lampard got back in the starting XI, replacing Scott Parker. The Chelsea midfielder had a chance to put England 2-0 up, but “Lamps” got the ball caught under his leg, causing a awkward shot that missed the target.
James Milner also started. The City man was given license to roam the pitch, as Capello used him as a playmaker, especially to link up with Young on the left.
Tottenham’s Gareth Bale primarily played down the right for Wales. England had no answer for the Welshman, who torched Ashley Cole (who played very high up throughout the game), especially in the second half. Bale’s speed and technical ability helped the winger whip a few balls into the box and earn free kicks for his side in dangerous areas. His skill did hurt him a bit though, as Bale got greedy, taking too many touches on the ball after dribbling around a few England defenders, which led to a shot that was well high and wide of the target. The Spurs midfielder’s best chance came on a free kick, which did not dip in time to beat Hart.
Gary Speed’s 68th minute addition of Robert Earnshaw gave the Welsh some extra pace up front to accompany Bale. However, Earnshaw, I’m sure, would love to forget last night. He missed a perfect opportunity to equalize for Wales, as the ball was laid down for him perfectly when he came streaking into the six-yard box after a free kick. Needless to say, Earnshaw sent the ball to the moon, and England escaped with a 1-0 win.
While Speed praised his players for taking the game to the Three Lions, his counterpart was less than pleased with his team’s performance saying, “We did not play the last 15 minutes well. We suffered a lot. We didn’t play good passes and never pressed the ball…The players suffered this evening. They did not play fast.” Though, Capello did say he was “happy for the result. It was the most important thing.”
England need to salvage just one point against Montenegro to qualify for the finals.
Death of Welsh Supporter:
Trouble brewed outside Wembley before the match and it led to the death of a 44 year old supporter of Wales and Cardiff City. The man was assaulted in a scuffle, but it is unclear what fueled the brawl. There is a strong possibility that the fight was not caused by English and Welsh hooligans going at it as the only men arrested in the case are from Wales. More details will come over the next few days and Scotland Yard have not ruled anything out. EPL Talk’s thoughts and prayers go out to the Welsh supporter and his family.
Euro 2012: Premier League Players
Juan Mata featured in Spain’s 6-0 thrashing of Liechtenstein. The new Chelsea man beat his marker on the right and slotted a cross to David Villa, who finished with ease. Former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas replaced Xavi at the break. Spain are undefeated in qualification and have qualified for the finals.
Scotland defeated Lithuania 1-0. However, it should have been two for the Scots had not Manchester United’s Darren Fletcher missed his penalty kick.
Former Premier League player Eidur Gudjohnsen played in Iceland’s 1-0 win over Cyprus.
Sunderland’s Niklas Bendtner was fantastic in Denmark’s 2-0 win against Norway. The striker’s brace came with 24th and 44th minute goals. Stoke City’s Thomas Sorensen shutout the Norwegians and was accompanied at the back by Liverpool’s Daniel Agger.
Arsenal defender Johan Djourou helped the Swiss to a 3-1 win versus Bulgaria. A hat-trick by Xherdan Shagiri defeated the Stiliyan and Martin Petrov midfield. Stiliyan told the press that the prospect of him retiring from the squad is, “…a lot of nonsense.” There have been rumors that the midfielder would stop playing after breaking the record for appearing the most for his country. Yordan Lechov, the man who propelled Bulgaria to the semi-finals of the 1994 World Cup with that famous header to send the Germans home, believes that both Petrovs should “…retire with dignity.”
Luka Modric is back. The Spurs man struck for his country in the 47th minute of his nation’s 3-1 win. Niko Kranjcar was also in the Croatia midfield, while Yossi Benayoun got another start for his country in the defeat.
Blackburn Rover’s Martin Olsson scored in Sweden’s 5-0 win over San Marino.
John Heitinga, Dirk Kuyt, and Robin van Persie started in Holland’s 2-0 win against Finland. Swansea’s Michel Vorm is aiming to take Maarten Stekelenburg’s spot in the starting XI. Vorm was in the squad for the match.
Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna played in France’s 0-0 draw with Romania. Florent Malouda stayed on the bench, while City’s Samir Nasri was added on in the 75th minute.
Edin Dzeko played the full 90 in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s 1-0 win against Belarus.
Italy defeated Slovenia 1-0. Mario Balotelli appeared for the victors off the bench. The Italian is playing down reports that he brought a iPad to the bench to entertain himself at last Friday’s match against the Faroe Islands, though he did admit to having it at warm-ups.
Aleksandar Kolarov and Branislay Ivanovic led Serbia to a 3-1 win over the Faroe Islands. Newcastle’s Joan Edmundsson started for the Faroe Islands in their defeat on Tuesday.
Northern Ireland could not take the pressure from Estonia, who topped a side that included Fulham defenders Aaron Hughes and Chris Baird, 4-0.
Martin Skrtel’s Slovakia suffered a embarrassing 4-0 loss to Armenia.
Aston Villa’s Shay Given and Richard Dunne braved pressure from Andrei Arshavin’s Russia to earn the Ireland a 0-0 draw. Given made three key stops, while Dunne had a goal-line block. The Villa defender was injured and the bloody number on the back of his shirt had to be replaced by the staff, who used a marker to pencil in the number. Stephen Ward, Glenn Whalen, Kevin Doyle, and Damien Duff also played for Ireland.
Premier League News:
Sir Alex Ferguson is defending Jose Mourinho, saying that he doesn’t “find anything wrong with his enthusiasm,” when commenting on the Real Madrid manager’s on-field antics and off-field remarks. The United boss told a Italian news source that when he was younger he, “was always gesticulating and directing.”
“It’s complete and utter rubbish and absolute nonsense,” said Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood, when asked if Arsene Wenger was about to leave the Gunners for PSG. Hill-Wood believes his manager is happy and has tipped the new signings to boost the club’s performances this season.
For us Americans it has been a rough week. Jurgen Klinsmann has got off to a rough start, as the Stars and Stripes fell 1-0 to Belgium yesterday.
Is David Beckham coming back to England? The former United midfielder may be headed to Queens Park Rangers after his LA Galaxy contract expires, says club owner Tony Fernandes. QPR have made “initial contact,” with the MLS club according to the Daily Mail.
Article of the Day:
Goal.com’s Shane Evans takes a look at how Manchester City is its own worst enemy.
Video of the Day:
Ashley Young scored the winner for England. Here are his thoughts on the match and the future of the team.
Question of the Day:
How disappointed were you by England’s performance against Wales?