England put one foot on the plane to Brazil with a 4-1 win over Montenegro at Wembley, thanks to goals from Rooney, an OG, Townsend and a Sturridge penalty, here’s how the players rated.
Joe Hart. With all the pre-match talk of how City’s number one was struggling, yet still deserved his place, mainly due a lack of any options, Hart will be glad the game passed without any blunders. England’s keeper couldn’t be faulted for the Montenegro goal and will no doubt be hoping attention in the media is focused elsewhere from now on. 6.
Kyle Walker. Remember when you played for the under 10s and there was always the big kid who looked like a teenager – that’s what Walker looked like at times- a lot quicker and bigger than his opponents. Walker’s lack of real ability was almost made up for by being able to run fast, but let’s not kid ourselves, all tonight proved was the Spurs man wouldn’t make United’s bench, needlessly booked so will miss the Poland game. 5
Gary Cahill. England are in real trouble if Phil Jones and Chris Smalling don’t start getting games soon. Cahill isn’t awful in defence and certainly wasn’t tonight, but his passing is poor and against a side that wasn’t putting much pressure on the back four, he failed to bring the ball out of defence with any real conviction. 5
Phil Jagielka. Another average defender, playing an average game, against average opposition. Didn’t have a lot to do and could’ve earned a penalty when he was caught in the face in the box by a hand, but that would’ve been harsh. A high mark for his performance tonight would’ve been generous. Not the answer since Rio Ferdinand and that other bloke retired. 6
Leighton Baines. United’s future left showed signs of why he’s raved about so much although I’m still not convinced it was anything better than we’d have seen from Patrice Evra tonight- if he was English obviously. Against a Montenegro side that offered little going forward, Baines was able to support Danny Welbeck down the left, showing glimpses of what’s made him the most over-inflated transfer target in recent memory. 7
Frank Lampard. No one does three yard passes better. Probably. Why are we still persisting with the Steven Gerrard/Frank Lampard combination? Michael Carrick replaced him in the second half but he should’ve replaced him before it kicked off. Anonymous. 5
Steven Gerrard. Deary me, how is this man captain of our national side? His entire contribution to the evening was a long range shot that was fairly easily saved. Produced the most embarrassing moment of the game when he kicked what should’ve been a routine shot against his standing leg. Paul Scholes must wonder how there’s even a debate, Gerrard couldn’t conduct a bus let alone a game the way the Ginger Prince used to. 4
Andros Townsend. Despite sharing a surname with one of the most clueless commentators in history, the boy done good. Willing to run at the Montenegro defence and not afraid to shoot, although he could be a tad selfish at times, it’s hard to blame him as he was clearly enjoying his debut. Scored the goal of the evening and gave Theo Walcott watching in the studio, an uncomfortable post match review. 8
Danny Welbeck. Yet again, the most underrated player to don an England shirt since Paul Parker, proved the doubters wrong, with an energetic and productive display which saw him have a hand in three of England’s four goals. Welbeck’s deflected shot led to Wayne Rooney’s opener, his cross was turned into the Montenegro goal by their own defender Boskovic and his tracking back and tenacity helped lead to Townsend’s wonder goal. Top day at the office Danny lad. 8
Daniel Sturridge. Very, very greedy. Always looking to shoot no matter what options were available and how far out he was and up until the 90th minute was heading for a disappointing evening. Credit where it’s due he earned the penalty he converted but against better opposition he’s going to have to look up more. 6
Wayne Rooney. Decent enough display and got England going with the opener but never a vintage Wayne Rooney performance. Showed determination and amazingly seemed willing to drop deep but at times going for the obvious is what lets him down. 7
Subs: Michael Carrick. Should’ve started as Lampard offered nothing and at least it would’ve given Gerrard more freedom to roam forward. Usual tidy display in his half hour, will be disappointed he wasn’t able to snuff out the Montenegro fire before it started for their goal. 7
Jack Wilshere. Fuming that a foreigner had scored for England and it showed. 5
James Milner. Whatever. 5