No high score in this game against Albania as it had been four days earlier in Munich against Germany, but this was nevertheless another win for England in World Cup qualification.
The game was only four minutes old when England had a penalty appeal dismissed by the referee, when Owen was tripped by Albania's goalkeeper. Then two minutes later the home side looked as though they would take an early lead when Beckham played the ball the Barmby but the Liverpool player's header went wide. The attacks by England on Albania's defence were building up, Scholes' shot on ten minutes from 25 yards went blazing over the crossbar.
Danger lurked for England after thirteen minutes when Rraklli was brought down in the England penalty area, but again the referee was not interested in awarding a penalty. Play went on with Albania improving their performance and testing England's defenders. England however, managed to capitalise on their strong play later in the first half when Michael Owen scored a minute before half-time. Scholes made a
perfect pass to Owen who seized the opportunity to put his team ahead at the break.
Heskey had to leave the game eight minutes into the second half though in an injury from a tackle and was replaced by Robbie Fowler. He had a great chance to put England two goals ahead after just over an hour of play but his shot was easily collected by Albania's goalkeeper.
Albania had a good opportunity to score mid-way through the second half but Dede couldn't find the equalizer. Then twelve minutes before the end of the game Seaman made a save from Murati's long shot. It was not looking a comfortable lead for England, but Fowler sealed the three points two minutes from full-time when he collected a pass from Carragher and lifted the ball over the goalkeeper.
The win put England at the top of UEFA Group 9, above Germany on goal difference. Automatic qualification should be obtained when England play Greece at Old Trafford in October when they play their last World Cup qualifier.
Seaman, G Neville, Campbell, Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Beckham, Gerrard (Carragher 83 mins), Scholes, Barmby (McManaman 64 mins), Owen, Heskey (Fowler 55 mins).
Subs Not Used: Wright, Southgate, Hargreaves, Andy Cole. (Full Squad)
Strakosha, Dede, Cipi, Xhumba, Fakaj, Hasi (Alban Bushi 45 mins), Murati, Bellai, Fatmir Vata, Rraklli (Mukaj 62 mins), Bogdani
(Tare 56 mins).
Subs Not Used: Beqaj, Fortuzi, Rud Vata, Skela.
England Goals: Owen (10 mins), Fowler (88 mins)
England Caution: Gerrard
Albania Cautions: Murati, Hasi
Referee: Juan Antonio Fernandez Mrin (Spain)