England stroll past Belarus as thoughts turn to South Africa
Published : 15 Oct 2009 10:37:33
Englandcompleted theirWorld Cup qualifying campaign with a comfortable 3-0 win over Belarus as Fabio Capello ran the rule over several fringe players with plane tickets to South Africa in mind.
Two goals came from Peter Crouch, whose impressive scoring record will make it difficult for Capello to keep the Tottenham frontman from boarding the flight to the finals next summer.
Gabriel Agbonlahor was also eye-catching with his dynamic running at a hapless Belarus defence, although Gareth Barry was England's star by controlling the game from the middle of the park.
Not everybody at Wembley would have taken their seats before England went a goal up, as a move brimming with quality proved too difficult for Belarus to defend.
Barry's decisive ball through the left channel found Agbonlahor, who made it to the byline to poke a cross through to Crouch.
The beanpole striker stretched a leg out to see the ball edge over the line from six yards and give England a cushion to sit back on from just the fourth minute.
A decent 20 minutes ensued from England, as Agbonlahor in particular looked full of promise and threat.
The Aston Villa centre-forward came close to strengthening his claim for a place on the plane when he latched onto a clearance on the break.
Running at the Belarus back four, he fired a low shot which was saved well by visiting keeper Yuri Zhevnov.
The rest of the half was uninspiring at best and it was the world's 77th best international team who looked more likely to score.
The likes of Vitaly Kutuzov and Timofey Kalachev proved to be a bother for John Terry and Rio Ferdinand with some neat interplay, but the Eastern Europeans failed to provide stand-in goalkeeper Ben Foster with any real task throughout.
The second half was slightly better, as Shaun Wright-Phillips began to attack from the left. It was he who got the second, collecting a short corner from David Beckham to skip inside a drive low past Zhevnov, who was caught out with a crowd of players in front of him.
The third goal was sandwiched between a magnificent attack started and finished by Sergey Omelyanchuk, whose stinging volley was saved well at the near-post by Foster.
Crouch got amongst the act again after Barry played Carlton Cole in behind the back four, stroking home a rebound.
James Milner and Beckham then hit each post within a minute of each other, but it was the performance of Crouch that will be talked about as Capello searches for the best man to partner Wayne Rooney in South Africa.