Defoe or not Defoe?

England produced a stuttering display as they warmed up for Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Croatia with an unimpressive 2-1 victory over Slovenia in a low-key friendly international at Wembley.

The match raised plenty of questions for Fabio Capello as the likes of Robert Green, Matthew Upson, Shaun Wright-Phillips and particularly Glen Johnson did little to enhance their international reputations.

However, Jermain Defoe continued his excellent start to the season with another goal while Aaron Lennon and Wayne Rooney looked particularly lively.

Tottenham striker Defoe came on as a half-time substitute for Emile Heskey and scored England's second goal with a clinical strike after being set up by Lennon. Dofoe must be knocking on the door to partner Rooney in the starting lineup soon.

Johnson was shown up by Slovenia at regular intervals and the Liverpool man was at fault for the visitors' late goal. He appears to be good going forwards but seems to falter in his defensive duties and against better opposition may struggle to cope.

Robert Green was lucky to escape when he handled the ball outside his area early on in the match in a momentary lack of concentration.

Milijove Novakovic then rounded the West Ham United shot-stopper but could only turn the ball onto the roof of the net after being forced wide.

John Terry headed a corner against the bar before England took the lead 14 minutes before the interval with the softest of penalties.

Rooney appeared to be fouling Bostjan Cesar as the two men tried to get on the end of Steven Gerrard's cross but the referee thought otherwise and pointed to the spot to Slovenia's fury.

Frank Lampard made no mistake with his penalty to give England a somewhat fortunate lead.

The goal preceded England's best spell of the match and Rooney should have doubled their advantage only to fire against the post from three yards out when it seemed easier to score.

Gerrard then shot narrowly wide from 25 yards out but England lost their way at the start of the second period after a host of changes by Capello at half-time.

It was a turgid affair until Defoe's precise 63rd-minute strike briefly enlivened proceedings.

Rooney was denied again with 19 minutes remaining when he turned Lennon's cross goal wards only for Matej Mavricrozic to kick the ball off the line.

Then with five minutes left and the match drifting to a conclusion, Johnson was embarrassed by Nejc Pecnik whose cross was headed home by Zlatan Ljubijankic.

England held on to their narrow advantage but they and Capello will need to step up their game if they are to beat Croatia in Wednesday's World Cup qualifier.


Principe Encantado said...

Hello. I liked the contents of your blg, congratulations and sports
Strong Hugs

spainfootball said...

Although I didn't see the game, I read a report here in Spain that described England's performance as 'tibio' - tepid.

Spain, on the other hand, were magnificent.

Interesting to see that both sides have taken max points from 7 games.

At the end of the day, it's points in the bag that count - the finals will be a different matter altogether!

Anonymous said...

I guess it must be difficult for the players to put too much of an effort into the game, especially given that 4 days later they will be playing in a vital qualifier- with one eye on not getting injured i guess they gave just about what was needed.

The Heskey over Defoe argument is one that i wish Capello would solve. I can't for the life of me understand why we still use a big man, when the top international sides have moved on from this old fashioned method. Defoe has never let England down and clearly has plenty of goals in him - surely Heskey is a better option off the bench.

Great blog

Paul & Les

Funkkeejooce said...

The problem with the English team is they still live in their past glories. So I think anyway.

Anonymous said...

Soccer (er, football) hasn't caught on in America. Beckham gets booed nowadays! Not good.

EPL addict said...

England Beat Croatia.. Capello is doing a good job with England.

Jabran Kundi said...

Fabio Capello has done a great job helping England qualify for the world cup. However, i hope the glamorous distractions that the world cup will bring with it will not be too much for the players to cope with. Capello must do something about that.