The Half-Time Whistle

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England v Wales

Good evening and welcome to Wembley where we have coverage of England’s Euro Championship qualifier against Wales. England know that a draw will be good enough to guarantee a play-off place, yet they will really need a win to keep up their hopes up of a winning the group.

Montenegro sit out tonight, so England know that win keeps the pressure on.

After their 3-0 win in Bulgaria on Friday, Brian Clough has made just one change and that is to bring in Gary Lineker for Jimmy Greaves.

Joining me in the studio is Lee Dixon and John Toshack.

Lee the team news, would you have changed a winning team, or kept it as it was?

LD: I’d have left things as they were. England need to win the game and I thought Jimmy Greaves did ok, but I suppose Clough wants to see how Lineker would do when starting. Greaves had a go, so he may as well see what Lineker can do.

John, Wales took a bit of a hammering against Montenegro last Friday, do you think they can pick themselves up tonight.

JT: They need to. They’ve got no chance of qualifying but there are some good players on show and they’ll be keen to give a good account of themselves. I’m interested to see how Bellamy and Rush get on up front. I reckon this Ian Rush could be quite a player.

Ok, well here are the line-ups for tonight.

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Well, England were first out of the traps and really went at the Welsh. Rooney went close, and probably should’ve scored, Matthews was put through on the right, but the keeper saved, and then Billy Wright headed over from a corner.

This was all in the first 5 minutes and then Rooney was brought down in the area. Up stepped Frank Lampard and he made no mistake from the spot.

LD: Yes it was definitely a penalty, for me. Vaughan should’ve stayed on his feet and was a little rash in the challenge. Well taken penalty from Lampard, though.

JT: Erm, yes I think it was a penalty. He just needed to shepherd it out, but couldn’t resist sticking out a foot and he brought Rooney down.

Wales struggled to contain England as they kept piling forward and creating more chances. Lampard combined well with the front two and Matthews and Young were threatening down the wings.

But for all their chances, England were unable to make their dominance count and add to their lead.

In the second half, England carried on where they left off in the first period. Then just 4 minutes after the re-start, England doubled their lead and the game was over. Good move this and a great ball from Johnson

LD: Lovely ball in from Johnson and Rooney got there first. It was well delivered as the keeper wasn’t sure whether to try and come and meet it, before it bounced and Rooney had slipped his marker and was first to the ball.

JT: Shouldn’t have been allowed to get there, really, but the defence left it for the keeper and the keeper hesitated, and I’m afraid that was just what the Welsh didn’t need so soon after the break.

Clough then made three changes bringing on Charlton for Lampard, Phil Jones for Barry and Greaves to Lineker. They all made an impression but England weren’t able to add to their score

LD: Yeah, I thought Bobby Charlton looked really good. He created several chances and had a great effort where he tried to chip the keeper from the edge of the area, but unfortunately the ball went just wide.

JT: England were fully in control for the whole match. Hart hardly had anything to do, and I can’t recall him making a save. England were just too good right the way through the team, and then when the subs came on, they too added something to the performance. Fully deserved the win.

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Ok, well in the other game in Group G, Switzerland beat Bulgaria, 2-0. Here’s the group table

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England now know that a draw next month in Montenegro would be enough to see them win the group. Montenegro could, in theory, still win the group, but they would have to beat Switzerland by 8 goals to overhaul England.

In Group C, Northern Ireland had a great result in Estonia as they won 5-1. With Slovenia losing 0-1 in Italy, that puts them in with an excellent chance of the play-offs. If they beat Estonia next month, then they’re in the play-offs.

In Group I, Scotland produced another good performance as they beat Lithuania, 4-0. They’re 2pts behind Czech Republic, and need the Czechs to slip up somewhere. The Czechs are at home to Spain and away to Lithuania. Scotland travel to Liechtenstein and then Spain.

So England march on with another win, under Brian Clough. It’s now 3 wins from 3 matches and no goals conceded. A point next month should be enough to see them win the group.


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