Quite a lot of people don’t particularly enjoy the periodic breaks from club games, but for me (as it’s quite difficult to get tickets for Premier League games without any form of club membership or season ticket) the international football calendar offers one of my best opportunities to go and see high quality matches throughout the season. Wembley isn’t too painful to get to from where I live on the train, fortunately, meaning I’m able to watch England’s home games quite regularly.
Saying that, the last games that I actually went to were the two friendlies which Roy Hodgson’s side played against Chile and Germany at the end of 2013 – meaning that it had been close to a year and a half since I last went to a match. So, as a result, I was quite excited about going to the national team’s game against the not-so-mighty Lithuania.
My knowledge of Lithuanian football is, well, err, somewhat limited, but even with that considered I still had high expectations before the game; somewhat recklessly predicting a comfortable England win without doing any prior research into the opposition. Luckily fortune favours the brave, and a 4-0 drubbing subsequently followed in front of what was surprisingly an almost full crowd on Friday night.
Wayne Rooney scored the opener very early in the match after missing an even earlier one-on-one, putting him onto 47 overall for the Three Lions in his 102nd appearance, and Danny Welbeck and Raheem Sterling also grabbed a goal each too, but it was the substitute Harry Kane (who had neither a goal nor an international cap before the 72nd minute of the game) who provided the highlight of the game and went on to dominate the headlines the following morning.
It was possibly the most predictable debut goal of all-time after all the media hype during the week beforehand, and even the Lithuanian defence seemed determined to get the inevitable out of the way as soon as they could by allowing him to score just 79 seconds after entering the pitch in the 72nd minute.
That helped to put the gloss onto the win for England’s players and the fans, though it seemed to be a rather costly night for the bookies – with a pretty large number of spectators heading inside almost instantly after Kane’s header to claim their winnings on their bets for him to get a debut goal. Either that, or they were covert Lithuanian supporters spread around the ground who had finally given up on them completing an unlikely comeback. I think, however, based on what half of the people in the row in front of me were saying, that the first one is the much more likely scenario.
After that Kane (and the rest of the two teams) didn’t really do too much in a game which was realistically over beyond that point, meaning that I would have to wait another day to get a more accurate reflection of how the Spurs striker would fit into the national team set up, but the goal was a nice start and hopefully a good indication for what the future will hold.
Nothing really went beyond the unforeseen in the 90 minutes, from the score to the scorers themselves, but even with perspective of the opposition included it was a decent and well managed performance from England. Excluding the matches against Switzerland that’s all that can really be asked for from Hodgson’s side in this qualifying campaign, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. England are living up to their expectations for once, so let’s enjoy it whilst it lasts.