England keep up 100% start
England kept their march towards the 2010 World Cup on track with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Kazakhstan.
By Chris Burton
Last Updated: 06/06/09 6:25pm
England kept their march towards the 2010 World Cup on track with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Kazakhstan on Saturday.
Goals from Gareth Barry, Emile Heskey, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard saw the Three Lions take maximum points from a tricky away contest and secure a sixth consecutive victory in qualification Group 6.
A draining trip to Eastern Europe inevitably had the England players struggling with jet-lag as they took to the field, and they appeared to still be half asleep as they narrowly avoided an early scare inside the opening 60 seconds.
A bundled cross from the left, after Glen Johnson had been beaten far too easily, had John Terry and co worried for a moment, but Sergey Ostapenko failed to get a telling touch from six yards and the Three Lions skipper was able to hack clear.
The uneven surface was doing Fabio Capello's side no favours, with Theo Walcott and Lampard looking anything but Premier League superstars as they squandered crossing and shooting opportunities respectively.
West Ham centre-half Matthew Upson, the man charged with filling Rio Ferdinand's boots, glanced a header narrowly wide after 10 minutes, before Barry picked up a caution for a sloppy challenge and ruled himself out of Wednesday's clash with Andorra.
Then, on 17 minutes, Kazakhstan thought they had forced a breakthrough when Ostapenko snuck in at the back post and nodded home a pinpoint delivery from the impressive Zhambyi Kukeyev.
However, as he celebrated in front of his delirious public, the assistant's flag was raised and the effort was chalked off - much to the relief of Robert Green, who had been found wanting on his first real test.
England slowly began to establish more of a foothold on the game, and started to get to grips with the playing surface, as the half-hour mark approached and Heskey saw a low drive tipped onto the post by Alexandr Mokin.
Terry then saw a towering header, from a Lampard corner, easily kept out before Barry opened the scoring five minutes before the interval.
Steven Gerrard collected a short corner on the left and his floated cross to the back post found the Manchester City new-boy unmarked and left with the simple task of nodding back across goal and into the bottom corner.
As the first half came to a close, Capello's team talk then became decidedly easier as a Gerrard lob could only be palmed away by a back-peddling Mokin and Heskey was on hand to poke home the rebound.
England barely deserved such a commanding lead, but they had improved markedly after a shaky start.
That progress continued after the break, with the visitors looking livelier upon the resumption of action.
A few promising free-kick situations were wasted, much to Capello's annoyance after seeing the Kazakhs struggle to deal with set-pieces at Wembley in October, but the overall tempo had England looking more like a side ranked inside Fifa's top 10.
The hosts, who had seen their fitness levels called into question by their own coach prior to the game, began to tire as the game wore on, with a wild 35-yard effort from Sergey Skorykh epitomising the air of desperation which had begun to infiltrate Bernd Storck's side.
While comfortable, England were still far from their fluent best and they initially failed to put their wilting opponents to the sword in the unforgiving fashion expected by those who had made the arduous journey to witness the occasion from the rickety stands of the Ortalyk Tsentralnyi Stadium.
Set-pieces continued to be squandered, while Kukeyev almost showed how it should be done at the opposite end as he lifted a swinging free-kick inches over the top.
Rooney, quiet by his standards for much of the night, attempted to get his name on the scoresheet with a delicate lob on 71 minutes, but saw that effort fail to trouble the Kazakh keeper.
The Manchester United man was not to be denied, though, and three minutes later he found the target with a spectacular scissor-kick after Moki had superbly beaten away his first effort.
The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the arrival of David Beckham with 15 minutes remaining, with the former captain entering proceedings to earn his 111th cap.
The scoreline then started to take on the lop-sided appearance expected prior to kick-off when Lampard hammered home from the penalty spot on 78 minutes, after Heskey had been hauled to the ground by Renat Abdulin.
The final 10 minutes failed to produce many moments to catch the eye, bar a speculative effort from Kukeyev which flashed wide, but England had already done more than enough by then and their jubilant supporters headed off on the long journey home in buoyant mood.
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|1||Shots on Target||11|
|5||Shots off Target||6|