A new era of football got underway tonight with Steve McClaren in charge of the England team for the first time. The former Middlesbrough boss had a great start to his new job with the thrashing of the current European Champions. The win came with England playing without former England captain, David Beckham, who was not selected for the squad after McClaren revealed that he wanted to go a different direction with the team. Only time will tell if his decision is a good one. At the moment there is still surprise over Beckham's omission. The Real Madrid star has said that he will fight for his place in the national team. Owen Hargreaves took over the number 7 shirt. Was Beckham's last game in an England shirt against Portugal in the World Cup?
With the World Cup now in the past, England are looking forward to Euro 2008. The qualifying campaign starts in September, and the players were looking to put the poor performances from Germany behind them.
Playing with a 4-5-1 formation, England were 1-0 up inside the first quarter of an hour of play thanks to header from the new captain, John Terry. Peter Crouch won a free-kick, which was taken by Lampard. The Chelsea player's free-kick put the ball in the area. Peter Crouch played the ball to the otherside of the goal and Owen Hargreaves got things moving when he put the ball back into the area. Terry was there, jumping above Charisteas, to head the ball past Nikopolidis.
Crouch came close a couple of minutes later but the ball marginally missed the target. In the opening period Greece barely put any pressure on the England team. Lampard got on to the score sheet when after winning the ball in England's half, he gave it to Defoe who made a run down the left of the pitch and played the ball through for the for the Chelsea man. The ball deflected off Antzas, but Lampard will be credited with the goal. England went further ahead in the 36th minute with Crouch slotting away a rebound. Then six minutes later Crouch got his second goal of the evening. His second goal came following a low cross from Dowining, Lampard's initial shot was stopped by Nikopolidis, however the ball only went to Crouch, and in what looked comical from one TV angle, Crouch stooped to head the ball home. England were cruising.
Whilst England were playing well, Greece were disappointing. However, they seemed to put up more of a fight in the second half, possibly due to a number of substitutions at the interval, testing England's defence and forcing Cole to clear off the line twice. Chris Kirland, in his first senior cap for the England senior team made a great save in the 54th minute from Amantatidis. However, neither side were able to score in the second period and McClaren got off to the best start by an England manager in 60 years (Winterbottom had a 7-2 win over Northern Ireland in 1946 in his first game in charge of the national team).
Robinson #1 (Kirkland 45 mins - #13), G Neville #2 (Carragher 78 mins - #16), R Ferdinand #5, Terry #6 - Captain, A Cole #3 (Bridge 80 mins - #14), Gerrard #4 (Bent 78 mins - #24),
Lampard #8, Hargreaves #7, Downing #11 (Lennon 69 mins - #23), Defoe #9 (Richardson 69 mins- #21), Crouch #10.
Subs Not Used: Young #12, P Neville #15, Brown #17, Dawson #18, Jenas #19, Wright-Phillips #20, Foster #22. (Full Squad)
Nikopolidis #1, Fyssas #14 (Lagos #29 - 29 mins), Dellas #5 (Antaolakis 64 mins - #32), Katsouranis #21, Antzas #28 (Kyrgiakos 45 mins - #25), Vyntra #24, Zagorakis #7 (Basinas 45 mins - #6), Karagounis #10, Giannakopoulos #8 (Salpigidis 45 mins - #22), Samaras #27 (Amanatidis 45 mins - #20), Charisteas #9.
Subs Not Used: Chalkias #12, Kafes #16, Gekas #17, Papadopoulos #11, Georgeas #19.
England Goals: Terry (14 mins), Lampard (30 mins), Crouch (36 & 42 mins)
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany)