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England 0-0 Montenegro: Game Recap


I'll be honest and say that there are many many things I'd rather be doing that writing up an exceptionally boring game. Ergo, bullet points:

  • England's centre was awful. Gareth Barry in particular could neither tackle nor pass, and ex-captain Steven Gerrard was forced to do the work of two. Further forward, Wayne Rooney was once against essentially anonymous, and Peter Crouch was rubbish, wasting a host of opportunities. Possession wasn't much of a problem with the visitors sitting so deep, but England were badly missing Frank Lampard's passing range and vision - and since Barry decided to go AWOL, there wouldn't have been the corresponding defensive downgrade.
  • Wayne Rooney's talent has gone but he still has his temper. Would have preferred the other way around.
  • The wingers were rather good. Adam Johnson caused moments of terror but his passing was nowhere near as good as his dribbling, while Ashley Young on the left caused pandemonium for Montenegro, with no less than three defenders booked over the course of the game for taking him down. He later picked up a yellow himself for an exceptionally dramatic dive in the box, but that shouldn't take away what was on balance a pretty good game from the Aston Villa striker.
  • Ashley Cole tied the record for most England appearances by a left back today, at 86 caps overall. He also played pretty well, and his overlaps with namesake Young on the left were causing problems for the visitors. However, these were relatively few and far between as Cole displayed a reluctance to go forward that's somewhat baffling to those who've watched him very often. That critique aside, it's illuminating to compare Cole to right-back Glen Johnson, who is just as dangerous attacking but farcical in defence - being in the wrong position more often than not and giving the ball away like some freak combination of Garath Barry and Santa.
  • England should have had a penalty for a late hand and had the better chances overall, but Montenegro deserved the draw due to a well-organised defensive display, and might well have snatched full points with a late shot that rattled off the crossbar. Yikes.

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