Cole double rescues England

06 September 2008 09:13
Two goals from substitute Joe Cole inside six second-half minutes saved England the embarrassment of dropping points in their opening World Cup qualifier against Andorra. Much like when the sides last met 18 months ago in a Euro 2008 qualifier at the same venue in Barcelona, England failed to find a way through a tightly packed defence and were booed off the pitch at half-time. Fabio Capello's side were expected to comfortably roll over a nation ranked 171 places below them in the Italian's first competitive game since he replaced Steve McClaren as England manager. Capello's side were again jeered at half-time, but his decision to send on Joe Cole and Emile Heskey for the ineffective Stewart Downing and Jermain Defoe had the desired effect. Cole volleyed home a Frank Lampard free-kick which was helped on by Joleon Lescott after 49 minutes. The Chelsea midfielder was then played in by a superbly disguised pass from Wayne Rooney soon after to stab the ball home underneath the advancing goalkeeper from 12 yards. The goals brought relief to Capello, but the fiery coach was far from happy with the overall display as he barked out orders to his players for the duration of the 90 minutes. Without several regular players due to injury and perhaps with half an eye on next Wednesday's much tougher trip to Croatia, Capello has handed starts to Theo Walcott and Downing. England started brightly with Walcott in particular looking lively down the right flank and the Arsenal man was at the centre of all of England's most promising first-half moves. Firstly he fired over the bar from a tight angle after just three minutes, before teeing up Rooney with a cushioned lay-off only for the Manchester United striker to slice a left-foot shot high and wide from 15 yards. Lampard went close on 22 minutes with a shot from the edge of the penalty area, but that was to be as good as it would get for a frustrated England, who resorted to long ambitious passes as the half drew to a close amid unrest on the terraces. However, the arrival of Joe Cole and Heskey seemed to pep up the England attack and Cole finally broke the deadlock with virtually his first touch of the ball. After his second strike, the Andorra heads visibly dropped and Glen Johnson could have claimed his first international goal had his low 18-yard drive not been flicked into the net by the clearly offside Joe Cole. John Terry came close to converting Lampard's driven free-kick in the closing stages as England finished the game in complete control, having produced a workmanlike if far from convincing performance ahead of next week's crunch qualifier against Croatia.

Source: ESA