2 of 10 people who visits my blog use Firefox!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Euro2008 Qualifying, England 3-0 Andora

Gerrard breaks the dead lock!
A second-half brace from Steven Gerrard helped England to a 3-0 win over Andorra in Barcelona.

After a dismal first half showing from the visitors, the Liverpool captain lifted the growing tension with a fine volley on 52 minutes, before bursting through the Andorra defence and sidefooting past goalkeeper Koldo with a quarter of an hour remaining.
Preston North End striker David Nugent blasted home from about one centimetre out on 90 minutes after Jermain Defoe's shot had squirmed under Koldo's body, with Gerrard again at the heart of the action.

The win sees England remain in fourth place in group E, and the performance was well short of that required for the press's witch hunt of coach Steve McClaren to be called off.
Andorra packed five men into the defence in the first half, leaving just Toscano Beltran to chase down the frequent balls lumped aimlessly into the England half, and the plan worked a treat in a turgid first half that was greeted with a chorus of boos from the seething travelling support.
Aaron Lennon provided a flicker of hope in the fifth minute, skinning Marc Bernaus, though saw his cross headed clear by the first man in what would become a frustrating pattern throughout the first period.

McClaren's decision to employ genuine wide players either side of the midfield was foiled by Andorra's stubborn refusal to leave their own half and disturb their defensive shape, and England looked clueless as to quite how to penetrate the home side's defence.
The two England shots that drew Koldo into action both came from outside the area, with Steven Gerrard forcing the &lsquokeeper to tip round the post from a swerving effort on 18 minutes after Owen Hargreaves had dispossessed Justo Ruiz, and then Johnson on 39 minutes, after he turned sharply on the edge of the area to evade Jordi Escure.
The best opportunity of the half though came from perhaps England's only threatening cross of the half, with Stewart Downing meeting Micah Richards' ball from the right, and volleying wastefully over from close range.

Steven Gerrard lifted the growing tension on 52 minutes with a sweetly struck volley from just the area after a neat flick from the otherwise anonymous Wayne Rooney. Lennon sped to the by-line on the right, and fired a deep cross toward Ashley Cole at the back post, and the loose ball fell to Rooney, who teed up Gerrard to break the deadlock.
Micah Richards provided the one genuinely worrying moment off the evening, being stretchered off on the hour mark, and was replaced by Kieron Dyer, while Rooney, who was growing increasingly frustrated, was hauled off and replaced by Defoe.

Despite their almost total dominance in territory and possession, England continued to struggle to break down the stubborn Andorrans, though in the end the visitors' fitness began to shine through.

Gerrard's drive and determination was one of England's bright points all evening, and it produced the second goal, as he combined well with John Terry and Defoe before charging through the defence and finishing calmly past the onrushing Koldo.
Nugent grabbed his first international goal on the full-time whistle, and will genuinely never score an easier one, profiting from a shot from Defoe that proved too hot to handle for Koldo. Again, Gerrard was at the heart of the action, dinking a measured ball in behind the back five, and Nugent smashed the ball home after Defoe's shot had squirmed under the keeper's body and landed on the line.

Euro 2008 England 3-0 Andora highlights: