England beat Lithuania but show signs that they haven’t moved on


How do you see a half pint measure? That you still have half, or that you only have half?

This could well be represented with Gareth Southgate’s England team, a team who got all three crucial points in their World Cup qualifying match over Lithuania. England of course were expected to win, especially being at home and did so- it was job done.

It was also achieved in a rather relative professional matter, the goals, one by Jermain Defoe and the other by Jamie Vardy were well taken and executed well. Mention should go out to Defoe, who at his age of 34 was deemed surplus to requirements as far as international football went. But the striker has been superb in an ever growing nightmare of a season for his club Sunderland who are at the foot of the Premier league. Credit should go to Southgate to realise that the striker was in form and deserved a call up, one that was immensely justified.

But England’s performance was incredibly laboured, even lethargic because within ten minutes of kick off they had checked out their opponents and quickly realised that Lithuania playing what seemed to be almost six men at the back had come to Wembley Stadium for a 0-0 result. Perhaps with huge luck Lithuania would have countered in the final quarter of an hour for a shock of shock wins but this was never in realistic terms going to happen.

And so the three lions had to be awakened as such, it never even had to be a rude one as Lithuania rarely threatened. The key in the end was getting an early goal, which Defoe did and the rest was history. By the time the second half had kicked off the area around the bench, so gloriously filled with fans for the big games was almost empty. Most had opted not to make the visit, whilst some may have still been at the bar behind the stand or grabbing a snack.

This match underlined the English mentality- and you do wonder if much will change under Southgate’s wing. True he wants to be a winner and he may take more risks player selection wise than this predecessors but this was a match devoid of any tempo, the opposition were clearly here for the taking and the 70,000 or so fans deserved to see a game ending with four or five goals rather than just the two that England could muster up in 90 minutes.

Let’s hope that this was just a bad day at the office, yes a win is a win and it’s three points, but this match could well lead onto a path that many English fan has walked many a time, only to be re routed backwards when the going gets tough.

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