England scored a very comfortable win yesterday against a woeful looking Israel side. Our very own Michael Owen continued his recuperation with a tremendous goal after 49 minutes from outside the penalty box.
Michael could have had another two and he again looked sharp and played the full 90 minutes.
One of these days Michael is going to put these half chances away and he’ll have another Newcastle hat-trick. Maybe against Derby County a week tomorrow?
It was a good performance by England and calmed the nerves of the fans and manager Steve McClaren, who can be very pleased with the result and the performance. Now for a win against Russia on Wednesday.
Michael Owen – looking more and more like the Owen of old
Shaun Wright-Phillips gave England a 20th minute-lead against the listless Israel side, with Michael Owen and Micah Richards scoring in the second half to cement a very good win for England. Steve McClaren was obviously pleased after the game with his side – who played very well:
“It was a good win and a good performance,” “But we have to follow it up on Wednesday, that is the key message.” “We played as a team, the crowd really got behind the team and we will need that on Wednesday.”
“It was important to win,” “I would have taken 1-0, I’m pleased with three but disappointed we did not score more, but the performance was the icing on the cake. They played very well today.â€ “They made Israel look ordinary. I’m sure Russia will watch our video and not relish coming to Wembley on that performance.â€
“We made it a comfortable win against a difficult side. Russia will be as tough and we need the same performance. We’ve set a standard and have to do it again on Wednesday.” “There has been a lot of pressure on Shaun but he has been in good form for Chelsea and he exploited the weaknesses of Israel’s full-backs,”
“Emile did his job,” “He made life difficult for Israel’s defenders. He is a more mature player and handled the situation well.” “No-one likes playing against him. His attitude and work rate was the main thing. He and Michael Owen combined well and always have done.â€
“I said we had players in that dressing room who were good enough.â€ “The likes of Gareth Barry were excellent. So were Wright-Phillips and Heskey. Barry has quality and showed he could handle the stage, the big occasion.”
On Michael Owen’s performance Steve was again complimentary:
“I’m delighted for him,” “There has been a lot of criticism and pressure on him. Typical Michael Owen, he answers it with three goals in three games.”
We have to agree with Steve on that one. Michael has taken a lot of stick but you don’t get to be have Owen’s status without having both the skill and the tough character he has shown over the last year or so. We believe this is a real personal triumph for Michael after so many people have doubted him. But he still has that predatory instinct which is now showing through more and more. And although he may not look it he is as tough as nails.
Steven Gerrard, played without a pain-killing injection in his broken toe and was substituted in the second-half after suffering some cramp. There was also a very good 85,000 crowd at Wembley.
We saw the game on TV yesterday where Russia beat Macedonia 3-0 even thought they were down to 10 men after their goalkeeper was dismissed in the second half. The replacement goalkeeper came in and saved the penalty. After that Russia grew again in confidence and scored 2 late goals to win the game 3-0. One good thing from an England perspective is their strikers are very weak and will find it difficult to score against England on Wednesday.
Russia now have one more point than England, who are now third in Group E, three points behind leaders Croatia. But the job is really just half done and a win against Russia on Wednesday is vital and will put us right back in contention to qualify for the finals next year.