Cole Rescues Poor England

England 2 Czech Republic 2

A last minute equaliser from Joe Cole salvaged a draw for a poor England side against the Czech Republic at Wembley. Goals from Milan Baros and Marek Jankulovski had looked to have handed the Czechs a win in Petr Rada’s first game in charge before the Chelsea man’s late intervention.

A dismal first half performance by the home side saw them thoroughly out passed and out thought by a competent Czech Republic side. Indeed England were lucky to go into the interval on level terms after Milan Baros had given the visitors the lead.

Baros, a man who knows all about English football, put the Czechs ahead mid-way through the first half. A lovely run down the left by Sirl, saw him beat Wes Brown on the edge of the area before finding Baros with a fine pass.

The former Liverpool striker, with his back to goal, swivelled past John Terry and hit a firm shot, which cannoned off Ashley Cole and into the back of the net leaving the stranded James with no chance.

The goal gave the Czechs a deserved lead, although they could have opened the scoring earlier in the game. Baros, again, hitting a firm shot from inside the box which was saved smartly by James, who got down quickly to his right to palm the ball away.

The visitors’ passing and movement was far superior to that of England’s who looked short of ideas and were struggling to support the lone striker, Defoe.

Indeed, for large parts of the first half it looked a case of same old England. Gerrard, posted to the left of midfield looked dangerous, but out of position, whilst Lampard and Barry in the middle were conspiring to do relatively little. Meanwhile, Rooney was finding himself playing far too deep to inflict any real damage.

All of which limited England and they were forcing into shooting from range, Gerrard and Defore tested Petr Cech but the Chelsea goalkeeper handled all that was aimed at him with relative ease, despite the slippery conditions.

The lack of creativity and pace from England was all too evident and, as the half wore on, it became apparent that set pieces may be their best chance of success. Whilst Beckham had struggled with his delivery initially, with five minutes remaining on the clock before half time, he finally found his range.

An inviting corner from the LA Galaxy man found Wes Brown leaping over Ujfalusi and planting a thumping header past Cech to level the scores. England reached the half time break level on the score sheet but far from convincing.

Capello responded at half time by replacing Defoe with Heskey as England looked to change things but within two minutes of the re-start they were behind again. A wonderful free kick from Jankulovski was curled over the wall and into David James’ top corner.

The goal saw the Czechs take control of the match and Capello resorted to throwing on Joe Cole for Gerrard, but again it was the visitors who looked the more likely side.

Goalkeeper James almost handed them a third goal, the Portsmouth keeper sprinting out of his area and onto the far touchline where he was beaten by substitute Sverkos, however the striker put his shot wide with the goal gaping.

The Portsmouth stopper wasn’t having his best night. With twenty minutes to go Plasil put through Sverkos again and the striker hit a firm shot which James spilled but managed to grab at the second attempt.

An animated Capello on the touchline looked far from happy and understandably so, and the Wembley crowd’s frustration became vocal as the match wore on and a rash of substitutions rendered England increasingly aimless.

With minutes to go however, the home side conspired to salvage a draw their performance simply hadn’t warranted. A corner into the box wasn’t cleared by the visitors and after an almighty scramble, Cole managed to poke it over the line to save face for England.

England: James, Brown, A Cole, Ferdinand (Woodgate, 57), Terry, Beckham (Jenas, 79), Barry, Lampard (Bentley, 79), Gerrard (Joe Cole, 57), Defoe (Heskey, 46), Rooney (Downing, 69).

Czech Republic: Cech, Grygera (Pospech, 46) , Ujfalusi, Rozehnal, Jankulovski, Vlcek (Jarolim, 46), Kovac (Rajnoch, 75), Polak, Plasil, Sirl (Kadlec, 75), Baros (Sverkos, 46).
Subs: Zitka, Kadlec, Pospech, Jarolim, Rajnoch, Papadopulos, Sverkos

22′ [0 - 1] M. Baros

44′ [1 - 1] W. Brown

48′ [1 - 2] M. Jankulovski

90′ [2 - 2] J. Cole

First-half highlights

Second-half highlights

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Cole Rescues Poor England Reviewed by admin Ucop on 11:33 PM Rating: 5

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