England took a step closer to qualifying for the Russia World Cup with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Lithuania to put England four points clear at the top of Group F.
Like a lot of matches England play in the qualifiers against the minnow sides, it was just a case of breaking the deadlock for England and then you always felt comfortable they would go on to win. Lithuania sat very deep from the start, clearly with the intention of trying to hold out at 0-0 for as long as possible. Having missed a chance several minutes earlier, Defoe got his first goal since his return to the national side on the 21st-minute mark. A lot of credit has to go to Sterling, as his fantastic run through the Lithuania defence and low cross made it impossible for Defoe to miss.
England had the early goal they needed, and while dominating possession, still found it tough to make any real chances against a very defensive Lithuania side. There were no chances at all for Lithuania until first half stoppage time, where after Hart sliced a clearance, a strong header back from the Linas Klimavicius went looping into the path of Nerijus Valskis. He was able to chest it past Hart and head it towards goal but thankfully Stones was able to race back and clear it off of the line. Otherwise, Lithuania would have had an equaliser out of nowhere. Replays showed the Valskis was a long way offside but, coming so close like that showed England were in need of a second goal to seal the win.
Sterling should have made it 2-0 at the start of the half but he couldn’t convert a low cross at the back post before Oxlade-Chamberlain forced a good save from the Lithuania keeper. England finally got the second with 25 minutes left when a great touch from Lallana from a Walker pass meant Vardy was through one on one and he slotted it coolly past the goalkeeper to make it 2-0.
From then on, there were very few chances in the match and it was mainly England keeping possession making sure Lithuania didn’t have any chances to pull one back as the Three Lions comfortably sealed out the victory.
England have a nice gap now being four points clear thanks to Scotland’s 1-0 win over Slovenia. However, with just the one team going through, England certainly still have some work to do to secure that place at the top of Group F. But nonetheless it was a very professional performance and like the Malta game, it is certainly a case of ‘job done’ for the Three Lions. England face a trickier task next as they face Scotland away, who showed they won’t be easy opponents by beating Slovenia.
Featured image credit: Flippo