England 4 Bulgaria 0
Published : 03 Sep 2010 23:11:13
A hat-trick from Jermaine Defoe helped England open their European Championship qualifying campaign in style on Friday night. The Tottenham Hotspur forward was not even meant to be involved in the match, having originally being scheduled to have a groin operation earlier in the week. He decided against surgery after coming through Tottenham's Champions League play-off win against Young Boys last week, and his reward was his first international hat-trick to put England top of Group G after the opening games. It took Defoe little over two minutes to open the scoring. Wayne Rooney, who did not score in the match but was instrumental in virtually every Three Lions attack, slid the ball through to the overlapping left-back Ashley Cole. He pulled the ball back towards Defoe who, with the Bulgaria keeper Nikolai Mihaylov still racing towards Cole, smashed a left-footed volley into the net from the edge of the six-yard box. The goal settled any nerves England may have had, but their fluent early play failed to create many goalscoring opportunites and Joe Hart, now seemingly established as his country's No.1 despite this only being his fifth cap, had to be alert to keep out a mishit clearance from the right-back Glen Johnson after 21 minutes. The match was decided in the space of 14 second-half seconds just after the hour mark. Hart made a good save from Stanislav Angeov Hart's quick throw out led to Rooney and Defoe racing up towards the other end. Rooney's pass into Defoe's run was perfect, and the Tottenham man finished neatly through through the legs of Mihaylov. England had to bring on the Bolton defender Gary Cahill as Michael Dawson suffered a serious-looking knee injury during a challenge, and a lack of understanding between Cahill and his central defensive partner Phil Jagielka allowed Dimitar Rangelov to test Hart again. Adam Johnson, on as a substitute, made it 3-0 with a shot from the edge of the area and Defoe wrapped up his hat-trick with another fine finish to add gloss to the proceedings. Defoe was replaced shortly after the goal as he seemed to injure an ankle in scoring the goal, but that was just a precaution and he will remain with the squad that travels to take on Switzerland on Tuesday night.