England had a new look about them today when they played with three strikers, rathe than the usual two. The formation worked well with the home side taking an early
lead through the in-form Frank Lampard. At the moment, Lampard cannot stop scoring for his country, having now scored 6 goals in his last 9 games. There was a welcome return to the international scene for Rio Ferdinand, who had been suspended from playing for 8 months of this year
due to a missed drugs test.
England and Wales had not played each other in 20 years, and the match was highly anticipated as Premiership players were pitched against each
other. Sadly it was not the greatest of games, but it was the right result for England, who could have improved the scoreline but had to settle
for two goals. Wales were forced to make a change to their line-up prior to kick-off when Andy Meville injured himself during the warm-up.
Lampard broke the deadlock with a low shot from the edge of the area. The ball took a deflection, but the Chelsea midfielder was awarded the goal. Seven minutes later, Rooney looked lively as he tested Jones, but between the Welsh goalkeeper and the post, a goal was prevented. There was 14 minutes on the clock before Wales had their first goal attempt, which fell to Giggs, but the Manchester United winger couldn't connect
his head properly with the ball.
Wales had few chances during the game as England seemed comfortable with their one goal lead for much of the match. Captain, David Beckham, sealed Wales' fate in the 76th minute with a fantastic right-footed strike which went into the top right-hand corner of the net. This was the
flash of brilliance we have come to expect from the Real Madrid player. Unfortunately Beckham later received a yellow card for retaliating against Fletcher. We later learned that Beckham fractured a rib during the game, seemingly during a challenge by Thatcher. Beckham will now miss Wednesday's game against Azerbaijan through suspension, although he would have now missed the game through injury had he not been given a caution.
Wayne Rooney gave a solid performance once again for England. He was unlucky a few times not have his runs through the Welsh defence result in goals.
With another 3 points in the bag, England now find themselves at the top of Group 6.
Robinson #1, G Neville #2, A Cole #3, Butt #4, Ferdinand #5, Campbell #6, Beckham #7 (Hargreaves 85 mins - #15), Lampard #8, Rooney #9 (King 87 mins - #12), Owen #10, Defoe #11 (Smith 70 mins - #18).
Subs Not Used: James #13, Terry #14, J Cole #16, Wright-Phillips #17. (Full Squad)
Jones #1, Delaney #2, Thatcher #3, Koumas #17 (Earnshaw 73 mins - #18), Gabbidon #5, Pembridge #6 (Robinson 60 mins - #15), Davis #7,
Bellamy #8, Hartson #9, Speed #10, Giggs #11.
Subs Not Used: Melville #4, Collins #12, Crossley #13, Fletcher #14, Oster #16.
England Goals: Lampard (4 mins), Beckham (76 mins)
England Caution: Beckham (83 mins)
Wales Caution: Pembridge (54 mins)
Referee: Terje Hauge (Norway)