Thursday 22 February 2018

Bent turns on star quality for Capello

Denmark 1
England 2

Henry Winter in Copenhagen

Meaningless? This was an encouraging evening for England, a deserved friendly victory spiced with some good performances from Jack Wilshere, Ashley Young, and particularly, Darren Bent.

Fabio Capello enjoyed a 45-minute cameo from Wilshere which hinted at his rich promise, although also highlighting that he will deliver most for his country when playing alongside a more defensively-minded midfielder than Frank Lampard.

As well as Wilshere performed individually, there was still too much space in England's midfield which the exceptional Christian Eriksen used well.

Young arrived at the break for his lively 45 minutes, scoring and proving a constant threat, frequently linking well with his new Aston Villa club-mate, Bent, who impressed throughout his 90 minutes. Bent it was who equalised after Liverpool's Daniel Agger had given Denmark an early lead.

Like Bent, Young and Wilshere, the England armband had a busy night, starting with Lampard then going to Ashley Cole at the interval before being passed to Gareth Barry. For one moment, it appeared that John Terry, stripped of the honour last year, was going to intercept Scott Parker, who was carrying the armband to Barry, but the Chelsea captain moved away at the last moment.


England, their spirit lifted, can now focus their thoughts on Wales in Cardiff and next month's resumption of Euro 2012 qualifying combat. Capello will hope all his players survive the return to gruelling club duty, particularly with the Champions League campaign now intensifying.

The one surprise came when Capello removed Wilshere and Lampard, restricting any appraisal of their axis to only 45 minutes. It never completely impressed as both are creatively driven. England still need a proper holding midfielder.

England's ambition was not helped by the elusive movement of the outstanding Eriksen, the Ajax 18-year-old whose development is being closely monitored by Arsenal and Liverpool. Brimming with sound technique and clever movement, Eriksen is clearly destined for bigger stages.

Wilshere was being slightly overshadowed, although still catching the eye with some of his link-ups with Rooney, who often dropped deep. The Manchester United striker had a decent half, almost scoring early on. Bent should also have found the mark, unfortunately hesitating and allowing Thomas Sorensen to save.

Like Rooney, Wilshere was one of England's better performers of the half.

But it was Eriksen who kept grabbing the attention, constantly shaking off markers to glide through. Even before creating Denmark's goal, Eriksen had impressed, the Ajax youngster running at England's defence, setting the alarm bells ringing.

Collecting possession on the right, Eriksen then whipped over a ball that caused chaos. Agger, nipping in-between the sluggish Terry and Michael Dawson, headed emphatically past Joe Hart.

England rallied, equalising swiftly. Rooney was the instigator, gathering the ball and releasing Theo Walcott down the right with a terrific pass. Walcott ran at Simon Poulsen, the Danish left-back, before drilling the ball to the far post where Bent played the poacher.

Capello rang the changes at the break, taking off one player each from United (Rooney), Arsenal (Wilshere), and Chelsea (Lampard). As Cole took the armband from Lampard England also re-jigged their system to 4-2-3-1 with Young playing off Bent and Parker and Barry sitting deep.

Young delivered one of those displays that he manages for Villa, but rarely for England. He did well here, enjoying the space behind Bent. Time after time, Young raced through from deep threatening in goal even before his cool finish. He quickly linked up with Bent, whose effort was cleared then Young met Milner's cross from the left, connecting with a good header but Sorensen again held.

England had survived a scare when Rommedahl's low shot was saved by Hart. Moving quickly down the other end, Johnson worked the ball to Young, whose finish was superb, his shot placed firmly past Sorensen.

The light seemed to be going out of Denmark, the hosts struggling to live with the pace of English attacks, particularly when the ball was at the flying feet of Young. Meaningful? Definitely. (© Daily Telegraph, London).

Irish Independent

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