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England take Group C

Welcome back, well what a night of international football we’ve had here.

England has won Group G, N.Ireland book a play-off place and Ireland are still in with a chance of the play-offs too. Wales takes part in one of the most remarkable international matches for years.

So, let’s start with Group G and England went to Montenegro knowing a draw would be enough. They started poorly and went behind to a goal from Vukcevic, but then Rooney equalised before half-time. Then in the second half, Billy Wright headed in a Matthews corner and England won 2-1.

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In the other game in the group, Wales and Switzerland played out a remarkable 5-5 draw.

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Wales took the lead when Ian Rush scored after just 7 minutes. Jack Collison then made it 2-0 after 16 minutes. Mario Gavranovic then got one back for the Swiss in 34 minutes, before Rush got his 2nd of the game and Wales restored their 2-goal advantage at 3-1.

In the second half, Andy King then put Wales 4-1 up, before Gavranovic got another one back to make it 4-2. Gokhan Inler then made it 2 goals in 3 minutes for the Swiss, to make it 4-3. Innocent Emeghara then completed an amazing comeback when he equalised in the 70th minute, 4-4. Into the final 10 minutes and James Collins converted a penalty to put Wales back in front, 5-4, but then Emeghara broke Welsh hearts with a dramatic equaliser 2 minutes into injury time.

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In Group C, N.Ireland did what they had to in Belfast as they beat Estonia, 3-1. Serbia and Italy played out a 2-2 draw and so N.Ireland has confirmed 2nd place in the group.

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Group B saw Ireland travel to Andorra and win comfortably, 4-0. But it was the result in Zilina that was most surprising, as Slovakia beat Russia, 5-1. This now makes the final matches on Tuesday, really tight. Ireland need Russia to slip up at home to Andorra otherwise you can see the top 3 sides all winning.

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In Group H, Portugal and Denmark both won and so we go to a decider between the two in Copenhagen on Tuesday. Norway can’t win the group now, but they could still reach the play-offs

In Group F, Greece sealed qualification with a 1-0 win over Croatia. Croatia will now need Israel to lose against Malta for them to reach the play-offs, or else Israel will take that spot.

Group E saw a remarkable individual performance from Holland’s Johann Cruyff. He scored 6 in a 7-1 win over Moldova. With Finland beating Sweden, 2-1 that means Holland has qualified. Sweden’s defeat now opens the door for Hungary to reach the play-offs at their expense.

In Group D, France has won the group, with Belarus finishing 2nd.

Group A, well Germany won this a while back, but Belgium has now got the advantage over Turkey, but they have to go to Germany on Tuesday needing a point. Turkey are at home to Azerbaijan and will qualify for the play-offs if they win and Belgium lose.

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Cloughie gets aggressive in the second half

Second Half

News of any substitutions, Kammy?

“yes, Jimmy Greaves has come on as Clough moves to a more attacking formation. This could be a bit reckless, but I guess its his intention to force the home side back on their heels. Scott Parker makes way, as the poor guy started on the bench and has now returned to it.”

46 mins: B – SLOVAKIA 2 – 1 Russia
52 mins: C – Serbia 1 – 2 ITALY
52 mins: I – Czech Republic 0 – 2 SPAIN
52 mins: H – Cyprus 1 – 3 DENMARK
54 mins: C – SERBIA 2 – 2 Italy
54 mins: E – Finland 1 – 1 SWEDEN

Let’s go back to Poda Gorica and Chris Kamara

“unbelievable, Jeff. Billy Wright has scored again for England. Another header from a corner and he has got quite a scoring record for his country already. 2 goals against Bulgaria and now another one. He was unmarked at the corner and England are in front, and much more in control of the game now they’ve made changes. Montenegro 1, England 2”

57 mins: G – Montenegro 1 – 2 ENGLAND, Vukcevic; Rooney, Wright
57 mins: E – FINLAND 2 – 1 Sweden
60 mins: G – WALES 4 – 1 Switzerland, Rush (2), Collison, King; Gavranovic
62 mins: B – SLOVAKIA 3 – 1 Russia
63 mins: G – Wales 4 – 2 SWITZERLAND, Rush (2), Collison, King; Gavranovic (2)
64 mins: E – HOLLAND 7 – 1 Moldova
64 mins: A – BELGIUM 3 – 0 Kazakhstan
66 mins: C – N.IRELAND 2 – 0 Estonia, Lafferty, Best

George Best has just doubled N.Ireland’s lead and with Italy winning in Serbia, they’re in a good position for the play-offs.

66 mins: G – Wales 4 – 3 SWITZERLAND, Rush (2), Collison, King; Gavranovic (2), Inler
67 mins: A – BELGIUM 4 – 0 Kazakhstan
70 mins: G – Wales 4 – 4 SWITZERLAND, Rush (2), Collison, King; Gavranovic (2), Inler, Emeghara

Amazing game at the Millenium Stadium, as Switzerland have just come back from 1-4 down. If Switzerland take the lead, then that has concerns for Montenegro

78 mins: B – SLOVAKIA 4 – 1 Russia
81 mins: G – WALES 5 – 4 Switzerland, Rush (2), Collison, King, Collins (pen); Gavranovic (2), Inler, Emeghara

Quite amazing in Cardiff as Wales go back in front

85 mins: C – N.Ireland 2 – 1 ESTONIA, Lafferty, Best; Kutt
89 mins: B – SLOVAKIA 5 – 1 Russia
90+2 mins: B – Andorra 0 – 4 IRELAND, McGeady, Hunt, Wilson, Walters
90+2 mins: C – N.IRELAND 3 – 1 Estonia, Lafferty (2), Best; Kutt
90+2 mins: G – Wales 5 – 5 SWITZERLAND, Rush (2), Collison, King, Collins (pen); Gavranovic (2), Inler, Emeghara (2)

90 minutes are up and in Montenegro, England are still 2-1 up, Chris

“yes, the fourth official has just put the board up with 3 minutes of injury time to be added on. Clough has shuffled the pack again and Rooney has been taken off with Phil Jones coming on. That means Ashley Young has gone up front to partner Greaves, with Barry moving to the left and Jones in at DM”

And the final whistle has gone in Pod garica and England have won. They’re through to the European Championships as group winners.

We’ll be back after the break with a full rundown of tonights results

Here’s the goals !

7 mins: G – WALES 1 – 0 Switzerland, Ian Rush
7 mins: D – ROMANIA 1 – 0 Belarus
8 mins: B – SLOVAKIA 1 – 0 Russia
8 mins: H – PORTUGAL 1– 0 IcelandThat goal in Cardiff for Wales is good news for England as that means Montenegro will be happy with a draw tonight, although news from there is that Frank Lampard has gone off injured and Scott Parker comes on.

10 mins: D – ROMANIA 2 – 0 Belarus
10 mins: B – Andorra 0 –1 IRELAND, McGeady
10 mins: E – HOLLAND 1 – 0 Moldova, Cruyff
11 mins: A – BELGIUM 1 – 0 Kazakhstan
12 mins: C – SERBIA 1 – 0 Italy
13 mins: A – Turkey 0 – 1 GERMANY

That goal for Ireland really makes things very tight in Group B. Russia, Ireland and Slovakia are all on 19pts.

15 mins: H – PORTUGAL 2 – 0 Iceland
16 mins: A – Turkey 0 – 2 GERMANY
16 mins: G – WALES 2 – 0 Switzerland, Rush, Collison
18 mins: B – Andorra 0 – 2 IRELAND, McGeady, Hunt
18 mins: C – N.IRELAND 1 – 0 Estonia, Lafferty

Laffery has put N.Ireland in front, and as Serbia are winning, that could prove crucial

21 mins: E – HOLLAND 2 – 0 Moldova, Cruyff (2)
21 mins: A – BELGIUM 2 – 0 Kazakhstan

24 mins: E – HOLLAND 3 – 0 Moldova, Cruyff (3)

And we have news from Montenegro of a goal.

“and it’s gone to the home side, I’m afraid. It’s been all Montenegro as England has been camped in their own half, but have managed to keep them out so far. England had to clear a ball into the area and Vukcevic picked it up on the edge of the area, dribbled to the left and then hit a low shot into the opposite corner, past Hart. Montenegro 1, England 0”

26 mins: G – MONTENEGRO 1 – 0 England

Defeat for England would see them go into the play-offs rather than win the group. That’s the first goal Clough’s side has conceded under his reign.

28 mins: H – Cyprus 0 –1 DENMARK
30 mins: E – HOLLAND 4 – 0 Moldova, Cruyff (4)
32 mins: D – FRANCE 1 – 0 Albania
33 mins: B – Slovakia 1 – 1 RUSSIA
34 mins: G – Wales 2 – 1 SWITZERLAND, Rush, Collison; Gavranovic

England are still unable to find a way past the Montenegran defence. Barry heads just wide froma corner and Matthews shot just wide when cutting in from the wing.

36 mins: E – Holland 4 – 1 MOLDOVA
37 mins: C – Serbia 1 – 1 ITALY
37 mins: H – CYPRUS 1 – 1 Denmark
38 mins: H – PORTUGAL 3 – 0 Iceland
38 mins: G – WALES 3 – 1 Switzerland, Rush (2), Collison; Gavranovic
38 mins: I – Czech Republic 0 – 1 SPAIN
40 mins: E – HOLLAND 5 – 1 Moldova, Cruyff (5)

Back to Pod Garica and news of a goal, who’s it gone to Kammy?

“unbelievable, Jeff. England have equalised. They’ve been awful in this first half, really up against it, but it was quick thinking from Matthews who intercepted a pass across the Montenegro defence and then squared it across the area. It went to Savic, who dwelled too long on the ball and Rooney slid in and got there first and it crept into the goal. They don’t deserve it, but it could be so, so important. Montenegro 1, England 1”

43 mins: G – Montenegro 1 – 1 ENGLAND, Vukcevic; Rooney
44 mins: H – Cyprus 1 – 2 DENMARK
45 mins: E – HOLLAND 6 – 1 Moldova, Cruyff (6)
45+1 mins: B – Andorra 0 –3 IRELAND, McGeady, Hunt, Wilson
45+2 mins: F – GREECE 1 – 0 Croatia
45+3 mins: E – FINLAND 1 – 0 Sweden

So that’s half-time in tonight’s matches. Let’s get a report from Chris Kamara out in Montenegro

“England are 1-1, Jeff, but they’re lucky to still be in the game. They’ll need to change things around, they’re defending much too deep and when they counter, there’s not enough support for Rooney. Having said that, this scoreline suits both countries, although Montenegro might feel they can take this. Ferdinand and Wright have looked a bit suspect, Johnson has been beaten too many times on the right. We’ve yet to see Gerrard take charge of the game, either. But I reckon Clough will get into them at the break and we’ll see a different side in the second half. Half-time, Montenegro 1, England 1”

Euro Championship Friday

Euro Championship Friday

Welcome to our special coverage of the penultimate round of matches in the qualifiers for the Euro Championships. Already we have Germany, Italy and Spain certain of competing in Poland & Ukraine next summer, tonight we should see several other countries join them. Will one of them be England?England are at the Pod Gorica Stadium in Montenegro, knowing that a draw is enough to win the group.

We should also see the likes of Holland and Greece join them, and possible France. There is a final round of fixtures on Tuesday when all the play-off contenders will be decided, and of course that could include Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland.

So, in Group A, the issue to be decided is who finishes Second, Turkey or Belgium.

Belgium v Kazakhstan
Turkey v Germany

Belgium may well move into 2nd place tonight, but they have to travel to Germany on Tuesday and Turkey are at home to Azerbaijan.

Group B, Russia could secure the group with a win in Slovakia. If that happens, then the play-off door is open to Ireland, who should win in Andorra.

Andorra v Ireland
Slovakia v Russia

Group C, Italy are already qualified, Northern Ireland could gain a play-off place with a win over Estonia tonight. If they lose, then they go to Rome on Tuesday needing to get something out of that game. Serbia are in with an outside chance of a play-off place, but will need to win tonight against Italy and on Tuesday against Slovenia

N.Ireland v Estonia
Serbia v Italy

Group D, France and Belarus are battling it out for the group win here, but France has a game in hand and so victory tonight over Albania should clinch things. Even a draw would be ok, but then they’d have to beat Bosnia on Tuesday

France v Albania
Romania v Belarus

Group E, Holland are in pole position in this group. A win over Moldova won’t confirm them as group winners, but will mean that Sweden need to win tonight and then overturn a 2-4 deficit in head-to-head matches on Tuesday. If Sweden slip up in Finland, Hungary could stand a chance of a play-off place

Finland v Sweden
Holland v Moldova

Group F, Greece just need a point tonight against Croatia, who themselves must win if their play-off hopes remain. If Croatia don’t win, then Israel should secure 2nd place.

Greece v Croatia

Group G, England’s group. A draw is good enough for England tonight, but Montenegro will be keen to keep Switzerland at bay. The two meet each other on Tuesday, so a draw for Montenegro will secure 2nd place, if the group win is beyond them

Montenegro v England
Wales v Switzerland

Group H, Portugal, Denmark and Norway all stand a chance of winning the group. Norway sits out tonights fixtures as Portugal are at home and Denmark away. It’s still not clear who will gain the advantage and this could go right to the wire

Cyprus v Denmark
Portugal v Iceland

Group I, Spain have walked this group, and even 2nd place may not get a play-off place, but Scotland will remain hopeful. They play in Liechtenstein tomorrow and the Czech Republic may only need a point tonight against Spain

Czech Republic v Spain

So, let’s have a look at the two line-ups in Pod Gorica. It looks like Clough has reverted to 4-5-1 with Rooney as the only attacker. Steven Gerrard comes into midfield for his first match under Clough. Ferdinand replaces Lescott in defence.

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We’ll have the goals right after the break

YOUNGSTERS STAKE THEIR CLAIM

 

In a few days time, England manager, Brian Clough has to sit down and decide his squad for the crucial Euro 2012 qualifying match in Montenegro.

Clough knows that England need just a point from that match to confirm themselves as winners of Group G. Does he go with the tried and tested, or does he start to look at some young players who are starting to press their claims for selection.

Players like, Steve Bloomer, the Derby striker who has been exciting the crowds at Pride Park. 4 goals in 10 games for the 19 year old. He also scored on his debut for the Under-21s when they won 2-1 in Czech Republic.

Tom Finney is another who is starting to get noticed. He scored for the Under-21s when they beat Lithuania 3-0 at Vicarage Road. He has made a good start for Preston scoring twice this season. Goalkeeper, Gordon Banks is another who has a rich future ahead of him. He’s made two Under-21 appearances, conceding just 1, and has also conceded just 7 times in 9 league appearances for Chesterfield.

It may well be too early for these young guns, but one player certain to be in Clough’s squad is Steven Gerrard who is now back to full fitness and putting in some strong appearances for Liverpool, who are now 2nd in the table, just 1pt behind Aston Villa.

Euro 2012 Update

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European Championship 2012 Qualifiers

The qualifying stages of the European Championships reaches its final month. Here’s look at each group to see who the qualifiers are likely to be

Group A

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Germany had this group sewn up long ago, but 2nd place looks interesting. Both Turkey and Belgium have to play Germany, and both are then at home to one of the bottom two nations. If both sides finish on the same number of points, then it’s the head-to-head results that seperates them. Turkey are ahead on that, having won 3-2 at home and then a 1-1 draw.

Group B

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Russia is in pole position to win this group, but Ireland may run them close. Ireland should win their final 2 matches, but unless Russia only gain 1 pt from their final two matches, then Ireland are likely to finish 2nd. Slovakia still has a chance of winning the group too. If they beat Russia and Macedonia, they have to hope that Ireland and Russia only draw their last matches.

Group C

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Italy has won the group, dropping just 2pts in their draw in Belfast. Northern Ireland has put themselves in with a great chance of 2nd place, with 3-0 win over Faroe Islands, 4-2 v Serbia and 5-1 against Estonia.

The Irish just need a win over Estonia to be certain of 2nd place, as they won’t want to rely on having to go to Rome to get a result

Group D

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This group has contained many surprises, but France should win the group, although Belarus will push them hard. Romania has been very disappointing, but Albania and Belarus have really impressed. Belarus 1-0 win in Paris in the opening game, was evidence of this.

France only need draws in their final matches to stay ahead of Belarus, as the head-to-head has France ahead at 2-1.

Group E

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Holland should have the upper hand here. A win at home to Moldova should give them the group win, although Sweden will give them competition. Sweden may need to win both their last matches, including a game at home to Holland. The first meeting between Holland and Sweden ended with a 4-1 win for Holland. Sweden will need to overturn that deficit if they’re to finish top. Defeat for Sweden in both matches, could let Hungary in. It’s 29 years since they qualified for a major championships, and this could represent their best chance since.

Group F

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Greece has been impressive in this group, dropping just 4pts. They’ve already clinched victory in the group, but 2nd place is still up for grabs. Israel has just an away trip to Malta to look forward to, which they should win. That means Croatia has to win both its final matches, one of them in Athens.

It would look like Israel will finish 2nd then, but everything could depend on the Greece v Croatia match.

Group G

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England need just a draw in Montenegro to confirm the group win. Defeat for England, would mean Montenegro could win the group with a draw in Switzerland. Mathematically, Switzerland could overhaul Montenegro. They need to win both their final matches, hope England beat Montenegro and then they need to beat Montenegro themselves by at least 2 goals.

Group H

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This is the closest of all 9 groups. Portugal, Denmark and Norway are all on 13pts. Norway are at a disadvantage win just 1 match left. The winner of the group could all depend on the final match in Copenhagen between Denmark and Portugal. Portugal won the first meeting in Lisbon, 3-1 so Denmark will need to beat that, unless Portugal slip up against Iceland.

Group I

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Spain has rarely looked in trouble at all in this group and have already confirmed qualification. Scotland has a chance of 2nd place, although that might not be enough for the play-offs. At the moment, Czech Republic are the lowest ranked of all 2nd placed nations. For Scotland to overtake the Czechs, they must win in Liechtenstein and then get something from their trip to Madrid. If Czech Republic lose in Lithuania, that could open the door for the Scots.

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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.

The “Wright” Stuff

Good evening and welcome to our special coverage of the European Championship Qualifiers. We’re in Sofia where England are playing Bulgaria. This is an important game as England have already dropped points against Montenegro and Switzerland. Montenegro, themselves, are in action in Cardiff against Wales. England will be hoping Wales can do them a favour by taking points off them.

With me in the studio are Alan and Mark. Alan, this is a big game tonight for England isn’t it?

AH: Aye, it is. I mean, England really have to win here. You hope Wales could get something against Montenegro, but England can-nay rely on that.

Mark, are you expecting many changes tonight from the Dutch game?

ML: Erm, well obviously Terry is out, Ferdinand’s out and Scott Parker’s not here either, so there’ll be 3 changes at least.

Is Billy Wright able to step up to replace Ferdinand, do you think?

AH: Absolutely. When you talk about strength, character and nouse, this guy’s got it all. I think he’s the real deal, looks very calm and good on the ball. Doesn’t look like anything phases him.

And to partner him at the back, Mark, who would you go for.

ML: Erm, I think Lescott will get the nod. He’s put in some good performances already for Man City, so you feel he’s ideal to come in. For me, it’s just about whether he plays 1 up front again, or goes for 2. Then he needs to decide whether it will be Jimmy Greaves or Gary Lineker who partners Rooney.

Ok, then. Well we’ll get the teams in a minute, but some news on the England Under-20’s who have been in action in the U20’s World Cup Final against Spain, and I’m pleased to say that England are World Champions!

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A fantastic win there and that really is a great result that bodes well for the future.

Some good youngsters on show here too, and here are the two teams for tonights game

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AH: It’s as we thought, Wright and Lescott at the back and it looks like he’ll go for 2 wide players and Lampard playing just off the front two. They’ll need to be careful that Barry doesn’t get overrun in the middle, but it’s quite an attacking line-up

ML: Yeah, Greaves up alongside Rooney and it’ll be interesting to see how he does. I like the width that Young and Matthews should give and Lampard’s got an important role in behind the front two. England should have enough to win this.

Ok chaps, and it’s Frank Lampard who gets the captain’s armband, which will be a proud moment for him.

Let’s see what happened.

England struggled to gain control of the game and it was Bulgaria who put together most of the attacks although they rarely Joe Hart under any real pressure. Then in the 33rd minute, Lampard was in the area and was brought down and the ref pointed to the spot

AH: He put that away quite easily. Great responsibility on his shoulders and he gave England a vital lead, which was against the run of play a bit.

ML: Yeah, that was important as England, as you said, hadn’t struggled to look as cohesive as they had last month.

Well, as half-time approached, England had a free-kick on the left, which Frank Lampard took and Billy Wright found some space at the back post and headed his first goal for his country.

AH: Desperate defending. You cannah leave a player like that. I mean he had a free header and that just is poor play from the man who’s marking him

ML: Took his goal well, though. Just like Bobby Moore against Holland, Wright has popped up with a goal and I thought he played very well. Lampard involved again and the captaincy seemed to galvanise him.

So England went in at half-time 2-0 up and things were going according to plan. In Cardiff, Wales and Montenegro were goalless, so England would’ve been 2pts up on the Montenegrans at that point.

England then had control of the game and there really wasn’t much from the Bulgarians. 70 minutes in and it was all over

AH: Great header from Wright, but what was the defender doing? How can you let someone get above you like that? Disgraceful.

ML: Matthews took the corner and it was a good one, he picked out Wright and although he got above the defender, it was still a really good header to beat the keeper from there.

So, all in all a good win for England.

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3-0 is a good win in any game, but away from home in an important game, that was impressive.

But, Montenegro eased past Wales with a crucial 4-1 win. So both sides are locked on 14pts. England meet Wales at Wembley on Tuesday, while Montenegro don’t play. It’s another game England must win.

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Impressive performance, Alan, or is there work still to do?

AH: Oh, there’s still work to do. I mean they cannah think they’ve got the group won yet and the final game against Montenegro could prove the decider. It’s away, so that won’t be easy, but some really good points tonight and that’s what Clough will be pleased about.

ML: Yes, I mean England took their time to gain control of the game, but when they did, they kept Bulgaria at arms length. Wright and Lescott were really strong at the back and I thought they all worked really hard. Lampard certainly seemed to grow with the responsibility of captaincy. Good result and they did what was required. Need to do the same on Tuesday now.

Ok, well in other results tonight, a fantastic performance from Northern Ireland. They were at home to Serbia, went a goal down and then a young man called George Best scored a hat-trick and they won 4-2. They have a really good chance of a play-off place now, just 2pts behind Slovenia with a game in hand.

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Elsewhere, Holland bounced back from their defeat at Wembley last month with a 3-0 win over San Marino, when Johann Cruyff scored 2 goals. In the same group, Hungary beat Sweden 3-1 and Ferenc Puskas scored a hat-trick. In Group H, Portugal won 6-1 away to Cyprus as Eusebio scored a hat-trick.

So, we’ll see you again on Tuesday at Wembley as England take on Wales. But for tonight, Clough looks as if he’s found a defender who’s made of the ‘Wright’ stuff. Goodnight

Selection Headache For Clough

27th August 2011

Barely a month into the job and already Brian Clough is experiencing what so many of his predecessors had to put up with. Injuries.

He has now lost his first choice central defensive pairing of Ferdinand and Terry. Scott Parker took out of contention with a back injury and Steven Gerrard is still not fit. Jack Wilshere is also yet to appear this season as has Agbonlahor.

Clough may be glad he gave Bobby Moore and Billy Wright their first caps against the Dutch last month, as they could start in Sofia. Clough has brought in Joleon Lescott and Ryan Shawcross as well as Theo Walcott, who missed out from the squad chosen last month.

Full Squad

Goalkeepers
Robert Green (West Ham), 11 caps
Joe Hart (Man City), 12 caps
Scott Carson (Bursaspor, TUR), 3 caps

Defenders
Billy Wright (Wolves), 1 cap
Bobby Moore (West Ham), 1 cap, 1 goal
Micah Richards (Man City), 13 caps, 1 goal
Glen Johnson (Liverpool), 35 caps, 1 goal
Ashley Cole(Chelsea), 90 caps
Joleon Lescott (Man City), 13 caps
Ryan Shawcross (Stoke), 0 caps
Leighton Baines (Everton), 5 caps

Midfield
Gareth Barry (Man City), 47 caps, 3 goals
Phil Jones (Man Utd), 1 cap
James Milner (Man City), 19 caps
Bobby Charlton (Man Utd), 1 cap
Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), 19 caps
Stanley Matthews (Stoke), 1 cap
Frank Lampard (Chelsea), 87 caps, 23 goals
Ashley Young (Man Utd), 16 caps, 2 goals

Strikers
Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), 71 caps, 26 goals
Gary Lineker (Leicester), 1 cap
Jimmy Greaves (Chelsea), 1 cap
Theo Walcott (Arsenal), 17 caps, 3 goals

England travel to Sofia to play Bulgaria on 2nd September and then play host to Wales on 6th September.

The Big Match – Second Half

Welcome back, and so we go to the action and what a start for this young England side.
Within the opening 60 seconds, Lampard game England the lead.

AS: oh yes it was excellent. Matthews got down to the bye-line and crossed a dangerous looking ball, which the keeper flapped at. Lampard picked up the loose ball and hit a fierce shot past the keeper.

IW: Cracking start for England. Really pleased for Frank, he was first to that ball and finished brilliantly. But what a run from Matthews. The boy done good tonight, really pleased for him.

If that was impressive enough, within the first 15 minutes, England were 2 up! Bobby Moore getting a goal on his debut.

AS: Oh yes this was excellent. Don’t know what the Dutch defence was doing here, but they were caught asleep. Young’s corner and Moore was first there, great first touch and it was an easy finish.

IW: Yeah, Al’s right. Beautiful first touch and they just seemed to stand there, the defence, and Mooro just couldn’t miss. Cracking start and these geezers are the real deal, these Dutch, yet we was making them look 2nd rate. I mean, what was the bloke doing on the post? Just watched it go in

Yes and it wasn’t until just after the 15th minute that the Dutch mounted their first attack. Joe Hart flapped at a shot, but eventually claimed it. But the Dutch rarely threatened, which was surprising really.

AW: It was, but Gareth Barry was immense in the middle of the park. He bossed that game and he just gets better and better, for me.

IW: Matthews was a wizard on the wing too. I mean he’s only young but you wouldn’t know this was his debut, he ran them ragged.

Then to round off the first half, Barry got on the scoresheet.

AS: He was immense, for me, I mean he just bossed that first half. Really deserved his goal. But once again, you have to question the Dutch defence. Left him all alone.

IW: Al’s right, it was as if they had concrete boots and Barry just drifted to the back post and headed in. Triffic first half for England, but Holland just had a mare.

So England went in at half-time, 3-0 up and a dream start for the new manager.

For the Second half, it was all change for England.

Clough reverted to a 3-2-2-1-2 formation and brought on Billy Wright for Glen Johnson, Scott Parker for Rio Ferdinand, Jimmy Greaves for Wayne Rooney and Gary Linker for Frank Lampard.

This had Lineker and Greaves up front with Bobby Charlton just behind them.

AS: Yeah, England eased off a bit in the second half, for me. I mean they played well and were well in control but I think the formation they were playing needs some more work. I reckon Clough wanted to get 2 strikers in there, but had to change the way of playing to fit everyone in.

IW: Al’s right. It did tail off a bit, but come on, we’ve just beaten Holland 3-0. I mean, Holland? Dear, oh dear, we should be shouting this from the rooftops.

Midway through the half he brought on Richards for Bobby Moore and Phil Jones for Ashley Young. Jones winning his first cap, and Clough gave all the new boys their first appearance. How do think they did?

AS: Very well. I thought Matthews was brilliant. Charlton worked well in midfield, although he faded a bit towards the end.

IW: Greaves and Lineker were lively when they came on, and Jones seemed comfortable. Yeah, they all did really good. Things look promising after that.

Enlarge this image Click to see fullsize

Ok, thanks, well we can hear from the England manager who’s won his first game.

Brian, you must be very pleased with that start, did it all go according to plan?

BC: Let me tell you, young man, that you’ve witnessed the start of an important period for English football. Those boys out there, were men against boys. You’ll go a long way before you see much better than that.

So, overall you’re pretty pleased. You made quite….

BC:…pretty pleased? Let me tell you, young man, you tell me who would’ve done a better job then?

Erm…

BC: …go on, tell me

Well, of course few could, but were you concerned with the 2nd half performance, not adding to the lead?

BC: Listen. We’ve just played one of the best sides in world football and made them look like the sort of side Don Revie used to put out. They’re a good side, but they were made to look very poor indeed.

You had Rooney up on his own to begin with, but changed to 2 strikers for the 2nd half. Which formation do you prefer

BC: I prefer any formation that works, young man, and you just worry about what you’re going to write about in the morning and let us worry about that out there. Listen, we play like that every week, we’ll top of the league. 2 European Cups I won, d’ya hear that?

Ok, Brian, well done on your win and see you next month.

So, England go to Bulgaria next month for another crucial Euro qualifier. If they play half as well as they did tonight, 3pts are in the bag.

Al, what are the positives tonight?

AS: well, where do you start? Everyone, right from the keeper, played their part. I mean, this is the no.1 ranked side in the world, and we’ve played them off the park. Excellent

IW: 10 out of 10, for me. Really impressed with all of them, they all did good. Can’t wait for next month

Ok. Thanks for watching and see you next month.

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