WC qual. - Walcott hat-trick inspires England : CROATIA – ENGLAND : 1 - 4

Publié le par Eurosport

Theo Walcott fully justified his inclusion in Fabio Capello's line-up after netting a stunning hat-trick as England downed 10-man Croatia 4-1 in their World Cup qualifier in Zagreb.
The excellent Wayne Rooney was also on the scoresheet - his first international goal in nearly a year - as England finally put in a performance worthy of the hype that so often goes before them.
Considering that heading into the game Croatia boasted an impressive unbeaten record in all competitive matches on home soil, such a convincing victory - off the back of an uninspiring 2-0 win over minnows Andorra at the weekend - was all the more impressive.
England's cause was slightly helped by the dismissal of Robert Kovac early in the second half - for a leading elbow on Joe Cole - but by the time he departed England were already a goal to the good and playing with a confidence not seen for a long time.
Substitute Mario Mandzukic netted on 78 minutes to pull Croatia back to 3-1, but it proved nothing more than consolation for the hosts as England took control of Group 6 and maintained their perfect start to their qualifying campaign.
Walcott, who was again preferred to David Beckham in the starting line-up, swooped to break the deadlock with a cool finish on 26 minutes.
The
Arsenal winger took full advantage of a botched defensive clearance by Daniel Pranjic which hit the back of Robert Kovac and fell kindly for the youngster. He took a touch and drove the ball low across keeper Stipe Pletikosa to record his first goal at international level.
He did not have to wait long to double his tally, the second coming soon after the break, and just moments after Kovac had been sent off for elbowing Cole in an aerial challenge. The Chelsea man was forced off the pitch and into the dressing rooms with blood gushing from a head wound, although he later re-emerged to take his place on the bench and allay fears of any serious injury.
England were quick to capitalise on their numerical advantage, Walcott finishing off a superb passing move involving
Frank Lampard, Emile Heskey and Rooney with a another crisp low drive across the face of Pletikosa.
Rooney then turned his hand to finishing just two minutes later, slotting home after good work from substitute Jermaine Jenas on the England left to record his first goal in an England shirt since the damaging defeat to Russia in Moscow last October.
Three-nil up and England were cruising, prompting joyful cries of 'ole' from the travelling support every time a pass reached its intended destination - unheard of behaviour at England matches in recent times.
Another slick passing move on 76 minutes should have resulted in a goal, but Lampard's effort was cruelly ruled out after Heskey was penalised for a shove on Josip Simiunic.
Despite the disallowed goal - and an earlier penalty shout which was turned down when Simunic tussled with Heskey in the box - everything seemed to be going England's way.
Even Mandzukic's strike on 78 minutes - which also could have been disallowed for
Dario Srna's earlier high foot on John Terry - could not derail the England bandwagon, and they soon reinstated their three-goal cushion.
Walcott capped a thrilling performance with his third and England's fourth with eight minutes remaining. Rooney was again the architect, bringing the ball out of the air with consummate ease before playing in Walcott, who kept his cool and finished past Pletikosa for a third time on the night.

Kazakhstan 1-3 Ukraine
Ukraine followed up their opening 1-0 win over Belarus in Group 6 on Saturday with a 3-1 win in Kazakhstan, Andriy Shevchenko getting on the scoresheet for the second successive match. Serhiy Nazarenko scored twice for Ukraine, to keep up the pressure on England.

Andorra 1-3 Belarus
Belarus got their first points with a predictable 3-1 win over Andorra, though the last two goals only came in the last 12 minutes from
Vitali Rodionov and Vyacheslav Hleb, a minute from time.

World Cup qual. - Group 6 - Full Table

Pos.

Team

Pl

W

D

L

GF

GA

+/-

Pts

1

England

2

2

0

0

6

1

5

6

2

Ukraine

2

2

0

0

4

1

3

6

3

Croatia

2

1

0

1

4

4

0

3

4

Belarus

2

1

0

1

3

2

1

3

5

Kazakhstan

3

1

0

2

4

6

-2

3

6

Andorra

3

0

0

6

1

8

-7

0

World Cup qual. 2008 Group 6 - Fixtures and Results

Wednesday August 20

20 Aug

Kazakhstan 3 - 0 Andorra

 

 

 

 

Saturday September 6

6 Sep, 18:00

Ukraine 1 - 0 Belarus

 

 

 

6 Sep, 19:00

Andorra 0 - 2 England

 

 

 

6 Sep, 19:15

Croatia 3 - 0 Kazakhstan

 

 

 

 

Wednesday September 10

10 Sep, 18:00

Andorra 1 - 3 Belarus

 

 

 

10 Sep, 18:00

Kazakhstan 1 - 3 Ukraine

 

 

 

10 Sep, 20:00

Croatia 1 - 4 England

 

 

 

 

Saturday October 11

11 Oct

England v Kazakhstan

 

 

 

11 Oct

Ukraine v Croatia

 

 

 

 

Wednesday October 15

15 Oct

Croatia v Andorra

 

 

 

15 Oct

Belarus v England

 

 

 

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