There was plenty to worry about before this match for Steve McClaren and the England team. There were a number of injury concerns regarding key players. David Beckham was ruled out 10 days prior to the game after injuring his knee in the SuperLiga Final in Los Angeles. Frank Lampard was carrying an injury, although he was named in the squad, Steven Gerrard had a broken toe and after much speculation as to whether he would play, he did take to the field for this encounter. Owen Hargreaves failed a late fitness test which resulted in Garth Barry being called to the starting line up for the first time in almost 7 years. Peter Crouch was absent from this qualifier due to a suspension, so McClaren decided to recall Emile Heskey, after naming his initial squad which did not include the Wigan Athletic forward. Heskey had been out of favour with the England coaches since the summer of 2004.
In this match it was the visitors who dominated play, with Paul Robinson not having to make a single save. Israel were disappointing opposition compared to when the two sides met back in March. Heskey had an early chance for England but his shot went over Israel's net. With twenty minutes on the clock Shaun Wright-Phillips got on the scoreboard, when he connected with a Joe Cole cross, from six yards out. The Israeli players protested that Wright-Phillips was offside but this was not the case. Aouate then stopped Owen getting England's second goal after the Newcastle United striker only had Israel's goalkeeper to beat.
Michael Owen made amends in the 49th minute when, after 18 months of injury, he was stood with his back to Israel's goal and collected a pass from Gareth Barry. Owen then spun around and on the half-volley scored a delightful goal from 20-yards out, and in doing so extended England's lead to two. Owen's goal came four minutes into the second half of play.
Another dazzling display in an England shirt from Micah Richards was sealed with a goal in the 66th minute after he headed the ball into Aouate's net after a Gerrard corner. With solid performances against Germany last month and now today from the Manchester City player, Gary Neville must be wondering if he will have a place in the England starting eleven once he's fit again. England were in cruise control going into the last 25 minutes or so of the match, with Israel failing to threaten their defence.
Coming up in four days is another crucial game when England take on Russia, who are leading Group E. England's three points from this game have moved them up into third place, just one point behind the leaders, however Croatia who are in second place have a game in hand. England need to win on Wednesday to keep them on course to qualify for the summer's Euro 2008 finals in Austria and Switzerland. Russia will likely be stronger opponents than Israel, but if today's performance is anything to go by England will be in a confident mood when they take to the Wembley pitch again.
Footnote: This was England's first win at the new Wembley stadium.
Robinson #1, A Cole #3, Ferdinand #5, Richards #2, Terry #6 - Captain, Barry #7, J Cole #11, Gerrard #4 (P Neville 71 mins - #14), Wright-Phillips #8 (Bentley 83 mins - #15), Heskey #9 (Johnson 71 mins - #17), Owen #10.
Subs Not Used: James #13, Brown #12, Downing #16, Defoe #18. (Full Squad)
Aouate #1, Ben-Haim #3, Benado #4 (Golan 57 mins - #12), Gershon #5, Spungin #2, Ziv #14, Badir #10, Benayoun #15 - Captain, Tal #11, Itzhaki #9 (Tamuz 46 mins - #8), Katan #20 (Zandberg 73 mins - #7).
Subs Not Used: Davidovitch #22, Antebi #16, Alberman #19, Balili #17.
England Goals: Wright-Phillips (20 mins), Owen (49 mins), Richards (66 mins).
England Caution: Terry (67 mins)
Israel Cautions: Gershon (15 mins), Benado (45 mins), Ziv (55 mins).
Referee: Pieter Vink (Holland)