Sunday, June 10, 2007

England vs. Estonia Recap

The result of this game never seriously looked to be in doubt as England traveled into Estonia's capital city and beat the hosts 3-0 behind a goal apiece from Joe Cole, Peter Crouch, and Michael Owen. For the second time in the same number of games, however, David Beckham was the real difference-maker and provided two brilliant crosses that led directly to goals. Beckham was clearly the most dangerous player on the field and he didn't even look to be at full strength after injuring his ankle just a quarter of an hour into the game.

With all this being said, and though it was the kind of game that may ease criticism of Steve McLaren temporarily simply because England won, in reality England's performance was not nearly as inspiring as could have been hoped for. The Three Lions did just enough to win the game and not much more. Fans should keep their optimism tempered until England host Israel in 3 months' time as that will be more of an indicator towards England's Euro 2008 future. Peter Crouch will not be available (yellow card accumulation) for that match and Israel has allowed only 7 goals in 8 games (even that is misleading because 3 of them were in the same game against Croatia).

That is in the future though; for now fans will take a bit of comfort in a 3-0 win and a favorable result in the Croatia-Russia game (0-0) which has pulled England to within 3 points of the top two teams in Group E for Euro 2008 qualification.

Updated Group E Standings:
1. Croatia (17 points, +12 Goal Differential, 7 Games Played)
2. Israel (17 pts, +10 GD, 8 GP)
3. Russia (15 pts, +10 GD, 7 GP)
4. England (14 pts, +10 GD, 7 GP)
5. Macedonia (7 pts, -1 GD, 7 GP)
6. Estonia (0 pts, -14 GD, 7 GP)
7. Andorra (0 pts, -27 GD, 7 GP)

Note: Top two teams qualify for Euro 2008 (cohosted by Austria and Switzerland)

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