Despite securing 3 points, a clean sheet and a firm place at the top of their Euro 2016 qualifying group, England failed to quieten their critics with an uninspiring 1-0 win over international minnows Estonia.
The Three Lions enjoyed the majority of possession for the entire game, even having an 82% share of possession at one point. Despite this, it wasn’t until the 73rd minute that Wayne Rooney curled a free kick from just outside the area into the goal. The relief could be seen in the players’ celebrations.
Other than that breakthrough, England failed to take advantage of their dominance over the game, with play often falling apart in and around the box. At times England displayed a passing master class in midfield, especially from England’s stand out player Jack Wilshere, but Estonia’s determination and stubbornness in defence meant that the Three Lions only had six shots on target all evening. This statistic is all the more worrying when it’s remembered that Estonia only had ten men on the pitch for half the game, as Estonia’s Klavan was shown a second yellow card three minutes into the second half after a challenge on Fabian Delph.
One major talking point from the game was the exclusion of Raheem Sterling from the starting eleven, with Roy Hodgson stating that the player was too “tired”. Regardless of the reasoning behind the omission, England missed the directness and pace on the wings which may have helped break the Estonian defence down. Instead England had to rely on the two full-backs, Leighton Baines and Calum Chambers, to provide width.
Nonetheless a win is a win, however lacklustre, and England are now sitting pretty at the top of their qualifying group with three wins out of three. Qualification for Euro 2016 is now looking extremely likely, regardless of how England win their games.
Image courtesy of bbd.co.uk