By Ryan Moran
- England remain unbeaten in group E.
- Theo Walcott scored his eighth England goal as Sterling added his second.
- Dele Alli made his England debut as a second half substitute.
LONDON, UK- England made it nine wins from nine as Theo Walcott finished off a quality passing move in a frustrating encounter with Estonia somehow ending with only one goal to the home side.
In a first half dominated by England, it took 45 minutes before the Three Lions found the back of the net.Walcott finished a five passing move with a side footed finish into the bottom right hand corner. Ryan Bertrand came into the side, replacing the injured Luke Shaw, combining well with winger Raheem Sterling. The City player’s back heel found the full back whose cross was punched as far as Ross Barkley whose shot was saved. The Southampton player found himself in a crossing position again, swinging the ball towards the front post for Harry Kane, beaten away by the keeper as far as James Milner who fired from distance, only for the effort to be wide of the goal. Everton midfielder Barkley combined with Adam Lallana, finding himself space in between two defenders only for a tame shot to be smothered.
The tight defence of Estonia kept the opposition on the edge of the box, passing the ball left to right, patiently waiting for an opportunity to unleash an effort at goal with Milner finding Lallana, only for the shot to be deflected up and over the goal by the centre half for a corner which came to nothing. One chance of note for the opponents came when a cross from the left had to be diverted from danger by Chris Smalling for a corner, easily dealt with by the home side.
The more the half progressed, the more likely it seemed Roy Hodgson’s side would make a breakthrough as Lallana found Walcott in space on the right side of the box, only for the winger’s shot to be deflected for a corner ending in a Milner shot with no end product. The last movement finally got the reward England’s patience deserved as the best passing move of the half ended in a goal. Five passes with no more than two touches per player ended in a Lallana pass through to Walcott just staying onside taking a touch to face goal before side footing the ball past the on rushing goal keeper.
Momentum carried early into the second half as the group leaders looked to mount more pressure on the opposition defence. Nathaniel Clyne’s early cross finding Kane on the volley, not caught cleanly and as a result went straight into the floor. Minutes later, the ball was won back and Barkley broke at pace into Estonia’s 18 only to be nudged off balance and lose his feet as the move broke down. The 20 year old took centre stage in the first 20 minutes of the second half using both feet to move past two opposing players with a right, left, right, left combination before firing across goal from distance, the effort always looking high and wide.
An injection of pace was needed in the game to take the game to the visiting side, Milner broke down the right hand side past the full back crossing to Sterling at the back of the box whose tame header was easily saved. Lallana made way for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as the home side looked to exploit the pace in the side. A right foot, left foot move from Barkley again found space in the box only for the keeper to keep the lead down to one goal. Sterling was next to try his luck, curling an effort wide of the far post as a one goal lead still left the whites vulnerable. Again the City player was prevented by the sea of blue shirts guarding the goal as clear cut chances were kept to a premium.
Jamie Vardy replaced Walcott with eight minutes of normal time left and two minutes later assisted Sterling with a squared pass giving the winger an easy finish. A long ball from Joe Hart was flicked on by Kane, Vardy ran in behind the Estonian full back to provide the pass to Sterling’s first touch finish. Dele Alli made his international debut as a second half substitute on his first selection for the senior side.
England travel to Lithuania to complete the last group game of European group stage qualifying in group Eon Monday 12th October.
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