Tuesday 12 December 2017

Rodwell shines on night of England landmarks

england 1, Sweden 0, Henry Winter, at Wembley

The last time England beat Sweden, Otis Redding was sitting on the dock of the bay, Jimi Hendrix was all along the watchtower and Tom Jones met Delilah for the first time.

So Fabio Capello's side deserve congratulations -- as Cliff Richard sang back in 1968. On a night of landmarks, England's 2,000th goal was hardly a classic -- an own goal by Daniel Majstorovic. But it ensured Capello's side finished an unbeaten 2011 on a winning note with some hugely promising performances, most notably from Jack Rodwell, who made some fine breaks and was unfortunate not to score.

John Terry, whose presence did not draw universal approval from a half-full Wembley, will still have been pleased to enjoy an untroubled night, primarily because Sweden lived up to their nation's pacifist tendencies, particularly Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Rodwell had stolen the show in midfield, shining between the boxes, making tackles and chances, even threatening to score himself

He had been granted a licence to roam by the deep-lying presence of Gareth Barry and Phil Jones.

Capello had given Jones another chance in central midfield, a disappointment for those who believe he needs embedding in central defence as soon as possible.

A willing worker, Jones diligently shielded the back-four, although he had to negotiate some nervy moments early on, particularly in fouling Pontus Wernbloom when Kyle Walker was well-placed to intercept.

Darren Bent had been largely isolated against Spain, who enjoyed so much possession on Saturday, but Bobby Zamora was well-served here, particularly by Theo Walcott.

England were flying down the right, Walker relishing his chance, all vim, vigour and vapour trails.

Taking inspiration from the right flank, England's left-sided men were soon involved. Leighton Baines began pushing on as he does so effectively for Everton, paving the way for England's landmark goal.

Baines laid the ball off to Stewart Downing, who clipped in a cross. Barry connected with a header which seemed to be speeding wide until deflecting in off Celtic centre-half Majstorovic.

England almost added a second just after the hour and again Baines was involved. His angled cross was aimed for Zamora, whose shot was deflected wide.

There were still moments of anxiety for the English before the finish, but the hosts held on to secure their third successive 1-0 victory. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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