Regardless of England’s first competitive victory over Sweden, this was a match between pretty equally matched sides, turned on piece of good fortune – James Milner’s yellow card.
Possession was 50/50, shots on and off target about the same, passing success about the same, they were both about the same, not that good. Though in the period when Sweden were in the ascendency the looked better than England did at any time, just when it came to open play they lacked any sort of cutting edge when they got to the box and reverted to dithering.
Their only hope was from set pieces, getting crosses into the box. Speaking of which wasn’t that the great plan by Roy, bring in the big fella, exploit the Swedish weakness and get crosses onto his head.
But where were the crosses?
Milner put one in early that Welbeck maybe should have done a bit better with, Johnson put one in later that Terry should have done better with, Walcott put the one in for Welbeck to score the winner – the only time anyone got to the byline – and the one Hollywood ball out of the 1000 that actually worked from Gerrard for Carroll’s opener. It was the only decent delivery he got all match, not a single cross on his head in the Swedish box. Didn’t he take it well. Looked like the Carroll of Newcastle not Liverpool. If you add up the total inches he got off the ground for Liverpool it probably would be less than the leap here. And he certainly attacked the ball with more than we’ve seen of late.
But of course the same old failings come after England take a lead. Other teams it seems to invigorate them, England it inhibits. As the first half petered out with each team cancelling each other, neither that good on the ball and coughing it up easily when pressured in any way.
Though amazingly it actually saw forward passes by Parker, even a good shot. Miracles. Yet funny to read criticism of Parker, dithering, too many touches, poor passing, when he played exactly as he has in all his England games of late and did for Spurs throughout the season. Where such performances would get him at least a 7 if not an 8 or 9 out of 10.
Sweden got their equaliser and as above it lifted them, they were fully in the ascendency. Woeful defending by England as they just stood around playing the wide open Melberg onside and watching him have a go at goal. Johnson, particularly bad, as was most of his defending, last gasp challenges and channel between him and Terry was there for the taking, just Sweden didn’t take it that often.
Ashley Young didn’t cover himself in glory there either but then he didn’t in the match fullstop. As I’ve posted about here previously Young never seems to perform when Steven Gerrard is in the side, all Young’s decent games have been when Gerrard has been absent
Is Ashley Young the new Frank Lampard?
As soon as they equalised it just looked like they would take the lead rather than England getting back into it. And Roy’s bit of luck struck. Milner chugging on the wing hacks down Olsson, deserved yellow card and is that what won the game for England? Though first they had to go behind.
Again absolutely abysmal defending from the freekick as they all drop back, yet Melberg gets a free header as he was only surrounded by yellow shirts. Lescott seemingly deciding not to bother marking anyone and just stand on the far side of the six yard box. Ibrahimovic, followed up showing what a loathsome git he is, makes winning even the sweeter that he’s on the losing side.
So with Milner really struggling and on a yellow it wasn’t exactly rocket surgery to bring him off. But who for? The Ox? Nah Walnutt. Living off the hat-trick against Croatia some time ago is still working it’s trick and now he doesn’t have to he’ll have this for the next couple of years.
Johnson puts in that cross that Terry nods straight at the ‘keeper, from the resulting corner the ball finds it’s way to Walcott on the edge of the area and his shot bamboozles everyone, including himself.
But saying that there’s no denying his run for the winner, as said first time anyone got to the byline and what happens, a goal. Will they learn? Doubt it. It’s what Young should have been doing, it’s what the fullbacks should be doing on overlaps and as Carroll and here Welbeck showed they can convert decent balls put into the box.
Two international goals from Welbeck now and two crackers. He took this one brilliantly, imagine of the likes of Messi, Ronaldo had scored it well the latter would be for Madrid not Portugal, they’d be going mental over it. Yet again he got bugger all service but he put the work in, he was harassing the Swedish back line all night. My England man of the match.
Before the winner it could have been so different as yet again Sweden sauntered past Parker in the middle as the ball came to Ibrahimovic on the right side of the box he had a swing, yes he hit it hard but again Gerrard did as he did against France when they equalised, leading from the front, captain, he ponced out of making any sort of block on the shot. This time he had Joe Hart to save the blushes.
So it leaves Roy with the
selection headache with Rooney now available. One thing he can’t do it start Walcott, shown here it can work as a sub but after he came on that right side of England was even more of a soft touch. The obvious choice is dropping Young but can he bring himself to go with Rooney, Welbeck and Carroll up front?
So after that no one will miss Sweden and no one will really fear England.