Michael Owen proved again tonight that he is getting close to his world class predatory form, as he scored two first half goals to virtually win the vital European tie for England in the first 45 minutes against Gus Hiddink’s Russia.
Rio Ferdinand scored a third goal for England near the end which Russia’s third choice goalkeeper Malafeev should probably have saved, but by then the contest was over.
So England got another 3 goals and another 3 points in their European Qualifying group this evening, and showed good play and guts to deliver for their country.
A job very well done.
Michael Owen - England’s best striker again with another two opportunist goals
For Owen’s first goal Gareth Barry’s corner was cleared back to him on the right, and his cross found Michael Owen in space on the edge of the six-yard box. Michael coolly trapped the ball, and picked his spot in off the post â€“ a simple goal for Michael but so very well taken.
Michael proved once again tonight for any doubters, that he is a world-class goalscorer when fully fit. It just shows how much England have missed a fully fit Owen over the last eighteen months, and England manager Steve McClaren must be so pleased that Michael seems back to his very best.
For Michael’s second goal Emile Heskey knocked down a long clearance right into the path of Owen who seemed to create so much time before hitting a dipping volley high past goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev. A great opportunist effort from Owen and excellently set up by Heskey, who played well again tonight. That’s 5 goals for Owen in his last 4 games, and 3 goals for England in the last 2 crucial internationals, as he looks to be getting razor sharp again in front of goal. Great news for England and especially good news for all Newcastle fans, who have waited almost 2 years to see Michael back to his very best.
McClaren’s decision to pick Heskey was vindicated as he again linked up well with Owen. Michael’s confidence and touch are returning with each game and he looks to be really enjoying his football again. Owen has delivered for his country during the last two crucial European qualification games with 3 goals.
The England team played well when it really mattered, and Gareth Barry had a brilliant first-half performance and looks to be an ideal partner for Gerard in central midfield. Gareth has given McClaren selection problems when Lampard comes back into the fold. But it’s now time that McClaren keeps the players in the team who have delivered for him. He shouldn’t automatically bring the stars in when they are fit again but needs to stick with the players who have produced for him over these last two games. Not only has it made England’s chances of qualification now look so much better – but they have saved Steve’s job by their excellent play, guts and determination.
You cannot ask much more of your players than that.Â Comments welcome.