Good, old England where back on our screens tonight as they looked to collect 3 World Cup qualifier points against Lithuania, after Wednesday’s friendly defeat to world champions, Germany. Gareth Southgate decided to make a change in formation and personnel going with 4 at the back on this occasion. From Wednesday’s friendly, Cahill, Smalling, Livermore & Vardy where dropped to allow starts from Stones, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sterling and the recalled Jermain Defoe against the Lithuanians.
Like Wednesday, England started very positively on and off the ball and looked adequate in possession. Unlike Wednesday however, England where rewarded for their play with a goal after 20 minutes and it was almost if the footballing gods had written the script for this one. None other than Jermain Defoe. Regular Sunderland scorer this season, keeping his side in the Premier League with his goals and after somewhat surprisingly being re-called up for England after his last cap coming four years ago, it was almost fitting to every England-supporting football fan to see Defoe score his 20th England goal.
Jermain Defoe’s first England goal since March 2013.
England continued to dominate mostly throughout the game with ease and where able to double their lead after substitute Vardy slotted home his 5th goal in his last 7 games for club and country and only his 6th goal for England. After only being on the pitch for 6 minutes before his goal, it highlights the depth in experienced strikers England have to hand after it was goal scorer, Defoe who came off to make way for Vardy in the first place.
As the game was coming to an end, England appeared to have dropped a few gears and possession hogging seemed to be a more comfortable tactic to see out a deserved 2-0 victory. There were a few more Vardy chances which the Leicester forward was unable to put away to extend the lead. The game finished 2-0 to England with Jermain Defoe picking up the Man of the Match award, which must put Southgate in a dilemma as whether to call him up again in the future.
Marcus Rashford is also worth a mention as he impressed with his substitute appearance for around 30 minutes. With the attacking qualities of Rashford, a new and improved Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and some of the more experienced players such as Vardy or Cahill or even Rooney, England do have an incredibly bright future ahead of them, they just need to figure out how to perform at major tournaments.
England Player Ratings
J Hart: 7 – Kept a 6th consecutive qualifying clean sheet for England.
K Walker: 7 – Some brilliant runs forward and decent defending when needed.
J Stones: 8 – Solid in defence and stopped the opposition from making any threats.
M Keane: 8 – Didn’t put a foot out of line on his England home debut.
R Bertrand: 7 – Good work from the Southampton man.
A Oxlade-Chamberlain: 7 – Put in a good shift in new central role, can still improve.
E Dier: 7 – Another decent performance from the spurs man.
A Lallana: 9 – Another tiring performance from the Liverpool man, slowly becoming the first name on the England team sheet.
D Alli: 7 – Not as influential as he was in Germany on Wednesday but still put in a shift.
R Sterling: 8 – Kept up his brilliant form with another assist for the first England goal.
J Defoe: 8 (MOTM) – Back into the team after 4 years and repays Southgate’s trust with a goal. Great performance.
J Vardy: 7 – Came on and influenced play. Also, scored England’s second goal.
M Rashford: 7 – Came on and also influenced play. His speed and dribbling caused the Lithuanian defence all sorts of problems.
Images sourced from BBC Sport/Getty images/The Independent