England 5 - 1 Croatia: England put on five-star show to book finals ticket
ENGLAND are through to the 2010 World Cup finals as two goals apiece from Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard enabled them to overpower Croatia 5-1 at Wembley.
Lampard and Gerrard took full revenge after being two of only three survivors from the England side beaten by Croatia in a Euro 2008 qualifier at the same stadium two years ago. Wayne Rooney added the fifth goal after Arsenal striker Eduardo had netted a consolation effort for the visitors.
England, who needed only a draw to qualify after Ukraine's goalless draw away to Belarus, began confidently
and Wembley erupted after seven minutes when Lampard struck from the penalty spot for the second successive match. Aaron Lennon was the creator with a run into the area which was ended by Josip Simunic, who could have no complaints with the decision. Up stepped Lampard to drill a fierce shot past Vedran Runje into the corner of the net.
Croatia were in danger of being over-run and it needed a fine save from Runje to deny Gareth Barry. Rooney's floated cross was turned back by Lennon to Barry whose 20-yard drive contained plenty of power but was beaten away by the keeper.
Croatia threatened for the first time when Darijo Srna's centre picked out Mario Mandzukic whose shot on the turn flew over the bar. But after 18 minutes Gerrard doubled England's lead.
The midfielder spread the ball out to Lennon on the right and then ran into the box to head a cross from the Tottenham player into the far corner of the net.
Croatia tried to retaliate and Matthew Upson put in a fine tackle to halt Ivica Olic in his tracks just outside the area. John Terry then flung himself to block a shot from the same player after Mandzukic had won the ball back. But England were soon back on the offensive and Runje went away to his right to parry away a 35-yard free-kick from Lampard.
It seemed only a matter of time before England added to their lead and Lennon should have made it 3-0 after 35 minutes. He cut in from the right and carried on running into the box to meet a pass from Rooney. But he lacked conviction to finish the move and his shot was going wide even though Runje got a hand to the ball.
Croatian coach Slaven Bilic made a double half-time substitution with Ivan Rakitic and Mladen Petric replacing Olic and Nikola Pokrivac. Petric won an early corner for his side but Robert Green punched away Niko Kranjcar's centre.
England were almost caught napping by a quick corner from Srna which picked out the run of Mandzukic but he sent his first time shot over the bar. Croatia were enjoying more possession as they looked to give themselves a lifeline but there were few alarms for the home side. Glen Johnson did well to get in front of Eduardo and stop him connecting with a Mandzukic cross although the Croatians appealed in vain for a penalty.
After 59 minutes Lampard made it 3-0 with his second goal of the game after referee Alberto Mallenco had played advantage when Lennon was fouled by Rakitic. Johnson picked the ball up on the right and his cross was cut back to Lampard who headed past Runje.
Any lingering doubts for England were banished after 67 minutes when Gerrard scored his second goal of the match. Gerrard found Rooney on the right and the Liverpool skipper was on hand to head his looping cross over Runje.
Eduardo scored a consolation goal after 72 minutes after Green had initially saved a header from the Arsenal striker and a follow-up drive from Mandzukic. But Rooney restored England's four-goal advantage with 13 minutes remaining. Runje sliced a back pass from Ivica Krizanac straight to the Manchester United forward who side-footed the ball into an empty net.
England: Green, Johnson, Terry, Upson, Cole, Lennon (Beckham,80 ), Barry, Lampard, Gerrard (Milner, 81 ), Rooney, Heskey (Defoe, 60) Subs not used: Foster, Brown, Bridge, Crouch.
Croatia: Runje, Srna, Krizanac, Simunic, Pranjic, Mandzukic, Vukojevic, Pokrivac (Rakitic, 45 ), Kranjcar, Eduardo (Klasnic, 74 ), Olic (Petric,45) Subs not used: Subasic, Drpic, Cale, Ivan Leko,
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Monday 20 May 2013
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