England went into this match on the back of a good run, and having four days earlier scored five goals against Kazakhstan at Wembley. Tonight the team travelled to Belarus, the first encounter between the two countries, and once again they were victorious. John Terry and Ashley Cole were ruled out of the game with injuries, with Wayne Bridge replacing Joe Cole. John Terry had missed the Kazakhstan fixture with the same back injury.
It took England eleven minutes of the match to get on the scoresheet with Steven Gerrard scoring a spectacular 30-yard goal, after getting the ball from Wayne Rooney. The home team seemed to then dominate play for a while after England's goal, with David James making saves from Molosh and Kutuzov. Pavel Sitko levelled the scoring in the 28th minute after meeting a Stasevich cross at James' far post and headed the ball into the net. Then, Lampard was unlucky when his header missed the target.
Into the second half and marking his 50th cap, Emile Heskey, went on a good run, beating Omelyanchuk in the 50th minute, and was able to cross the ball to Rooney, who put England in the lead again. England's last goal came in the 74th minute of the match when Bridge and Gerrard linked up with Rooney, who dummied a Belarus player, and wonderfully lifted the ball over Zhevnov. Pure class. That takes Wayne Rooney up to five goals in the last three matches. England should have had a fourth goal in the 85th minute, but after beating the goalkeeper, Gerrard hit the outside of the post.
After now playing four World Cup qualifiers, England have maximum points, and what a good feeling that is. They now have a break from competitive football until April 2009.
Zhevnov #12, Verkhovtsov #18, Filipenko #3, Omelyanchuk #4, Molosh #5, Kulchy #2, Sitko #10, Putsilo #14 (Rodionov 67 mins - #11), Stasevich #16 (Hleb 90 mins - #9), Kutuzov #13 (Strakhanovich 77 mins - #8), Bulyga #7.
Subs Not Used: Veremko #1, Sosnovskiy #17, Korytko #6, Pavlov #15.
James #1, Brown #2, Ferdinand #5 - Captain, Upson #6, Bridge #3, Barry #11, Lampard #8, Gerrard #4, Walcott #7 (Wright-Phillips 68 mins - #16), Rooney #10 (Beckham 87 mins - #15), Heskey #9 (Crouch 70 mins - #18).
Subs Not Used: Carson #12, Johnson #13, Lescott #14, Defoe #17. (Full Squad)
Belarus Goal: Sitko (28 mins)
England Goals: Gerrard (11 mins), Rooney (50 & 74 mins)
Belarus Caution: Putsilo (21 mins)
Referee: Terje Hauge (Norway)