England made it a perfect 10 with victory in the Baltic, but their record-breaking achievement was marred by fighting between their fans and Lithuanian supporters.
LITHUANIA - 0
ENGLAND - 3
Barkley 29, Arlauskis 35og, Oxlade-Chamberlain 62
Goals from Ross Barkley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well as an own goal from Lithuania stopper Giedrius Arlauskis, meant Roy Hodgson’s men ended their Euro 2016 qualification campaign with a 3-0 win.
A year on from their wretched World Cup campaign, England will head to France next summer having won all 10 of their qualifiers. It is the first time England have qualified for a major tournament in this format with a 100 per cent record.
England’s group may have been the easiest in qualifying, but the achievement should not be sniffed at, and again the likes of Barkley, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana showed glimpses of class.
England’s performances and form will not worry Hodgson, but his FA bosses will be concerned at the disturbances in Vilnius last night.
The Lithuanians had not sold out the 5,500-seater stadium, so tickets went on sale earlier this week and the England fans who travelled to the Baltic nation clearly snapped them up. That meant Lithuanians and English supporters mixed in the same stand and that spelled trouble.
The skirmishes started before kick-off when the England fans clashed with Lithuania supporters. The fans brawled and missiles were thrown before riot police stepped in to break up the fighting and separate the fans. The Lithuanian supporters booed God Save The Queen, before the England fans started singing anti-IRA songs. An uneasy truce ensued between the two groups as the match began.
Harry Kane was eager to make the most of a surprise start. The Tottenham striker drew three saves from Lithuania keeper Arlauskis in the first 22 minutes, but then played an important part in England’s opening goal.
Kane rolled the ball to Barkley, who cracked a shot into the net off the upright. Replays showed the shot took a slight deflection off Tomas Mikuckis, but it was a stunning strike from Barkley.
The Everton midfielder continued to impress, while Lallana probed with a series of clever passes – one of which helped put England 2-0 up. Lallana flicked the ball into Kane’s path and his drive hit the post and struck the goalkeeper before rolling into the net.
After the break, Arlauskis palmed an effort from Kane straight back at the Spurs man, but his shot was blocked by Linas Klimavicius.
Arlauskis then produced a top save to deny Barkley, but he could do nothing to stop Oxlade-Chamberlain’s fine strike just after the hour. The Arsenal winger beat the offside trip and latched on to Kyle Walker’s incisive pass before belting the ball into the top corner to seal the win.
Lithuania: Arlauskis,Freidgeimas,Mikuckis,Klimavicius, Andriuskevicius (Vaitkunas 82),Novikovas (Petravicius 63),Panka, Zulpa,Cernych,Slivka,Spalvis (Matulevicius 85). Subs Not Used: Zubas,Slavickas,Cesnauskis,Pilibaitis,Kuklys, Veliulis,Baravykas,Cerniauskas.
England: Butland,Walker,Jones,Jagielka,Gibbs, Barkley (Townsend 73),Shelvey,Lallana (Alli 67), Oxlade-Chamberlain,Kane (Ings 59),Vardy. Subs Not Used: Heaton,Smalling,Walcott,Clyne,Bertrand,Sterling.