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Key Events

86'
R. Muscat
A. Schembri
76'
M. Mifsud
A. Effiong
73'
J. Vardy
D. Sturridge
68'
M. Rashford
T. Walcott
55'
S. Borg
Yellow Card
38'
D. Alli
Goal
29'
J. Henderson
Assist
29'
D. Sturridge
Goal
19'
D. Rose
R. Bertrand
3
0
2
1

Stats

Possession
% %
7
0
Shots Off Target
Shots On Target 10 1
Total Passes 917 236

Commentary

It wasn't the most scintillating of performances, but England did enough this evening to comfortably beat Malta in what was an easy game for the home side. It was always going to be tough for Malta, and despite offering a little bit more in a second half in which they looked slightly more compact at the back, they nonetheless struggled throughout and made life very easy for the Three Lions.
FULL-TIME: ENGLAND 2-0 MALTA
90' + 2' Rashford breaks down the right flank and heads towards the byline before fizzing a dangerous cross over to the edge of the six-yard box, but it fails to pick out a white shirt and Malta do well to clear the danger. That should be that for the home side.
90' The fourth official has indicated that there will be two minutes of added time.
89' Walker and Rashford link up well deep down the right flank before the latter spins and finds Rooney in a pocket of space on the edge of the Malta penalty area, but the captain scuffs his first-time strike and sends it sailing comfortably over the top of the crossbar and out for a goal-kick.
87' Mifsud breaks into the England penalty area as he once again tries to latch on to a hopeful long pass forward. He's able to do so and does well to keep the ball in play, but just as he does he loses his footing and Cahill is able to clear the danger with ease.
R. Muscat
A. Schembri
Malta
86' Malta have made a late substitution, with Rowen Muscat coming on to replace Schembri.
85' What a chance for Alli to make it 3-0! Rashford is left in acres of space over on the right-hand side of the Malta penalty area and is able to whip a low cross into the middle of the box, but Alli's first-time, close-range strike ends up flying a yard or so over the top of the crossbar. He really should have buried that!
83' An England corner over on the right wing fails to result in a chance on goal for the home side, allowing Malta to push forward on another counter-attack. They get the ball forward well thanks to good play from Schembri and Mifsud, but the veteran forward is eventually dispossessed by Rooney before he can pick out a teammate.
81' Mifsud is finally able to get involved in the game for the first time since coming on to the pitch, and he does well to hold off Cahill before forcing the defender into giving away a free-kick in an advantageous position. Fenech sends a lovely cross over to the far post, where it finds Agius, but the defender's thumping volley is pushed round the near post by Hart.
79' A low, bouncing cross is sent in from the left flank that should be easily dealt with by Alex Muscat, but the wing-back lets the ball roll under him and over to Lingard. The England youngster immediately tries to pick out Vardy with a chipped cross, but it's slightly overhit and fails to find the head of the striker.
78' Henderson picks up the ball in a pocket of space 30 yards away from the Malta goal and quickly whips a low cross into the middle of the penalty area, but Agius is just about able to throw his body in the way to stip it from finding any of the three white shirts in front of goal.
M. Mifsud
A. Effiong
Malta
76' Malta have made their first change of the evening, with veteran striker Mifsud coming on to take the place of Effiong for the final quarter of an hour.
75' Rashford breaks into the left-hand side of the Malta box on a great run before cutting the ball back towards the penalty spot, but there's nobody there to meet it and the visitors are able to hold on once again.
J. Vardy
D. Sturridge
England
73' England have made their final alteration of the game, with Sturridge making way for Vardy.
73' It's all England at the moment, but the pace of the game has slowed down and they aren't playing with the same intensity that they did in the first half. As a result, it hasn't been too difficult a second period for the Malta defence, who are doing well to restrict England's chances on goal.
71' Effiong is presented with a rare opportunity to push forward as he desperately tries to latch on to a lofted pass up to the England penalty area, but the striker, who hasn't had a sniff on goal all game, is easily out-muscled by Cahill.
69' Lingard goes close! Alli is tripped over in the middle of the pitch, resulting in a free-kick for England that Rooney takes quickly. The captain pokes the ball over to Lingard, who is completely unmarked on the edge of the Malta box, but his thumping low shot ends up flying the wrong side of the far post after beating Hogg.
M. Rashford
T. Walcott
England
68' Rashford receives a rousing round of applause from the England fans as he comes on to the pitch to replace Walcott for the final 22 minutes of the game.
67' Fantastic opportunity for Sturridge! Malta are unable to clear the ball from their own penalty area and allow Henderson to dink a deft cross over to the far post, where it finds Sturridge. The striker is in a pocket of space and tries to bring it down quickly, but his first touch is poor and he's dispossessed before he can shoot.
66' Walcott breaks into the Malta box once again, this time over on the right-hand side, after linking up well with Walker, but the winger is quickly closed down by two red shirts and is dispossessed just as he's about to pull the trigger from close range.
65' Great save by Hogg! Lingard cuts inside from the left wing and flies towards the Malta penalty area before teeing up Walcott with a deft through-ball, but the Arsenal man is denied a goal but another superb stop from Hogg, who does well to parry the shot out for a corner.
63' Walcott and Walker link up nicely over on the right flank before the latter swings another looping cross over to the far post, but this time there's nobody there to meet it and Borg is able to chest the ball into the safe hands of Hogg.
61' Almost a chance for Alli! Walker picks up the ball deep down the right wing and immediately swings a dangerous cross over to the far post. Alli charges towards goal and tries to make contact with the ball, but Hogg is just about able to push it away from the onrushing attacking midfielder, who looked certain to score.
59' Effiong is clattered into from behind by Stones and Malta are awarded a free-kick in an advantageous position midway inside the England half of the pitch. It's thumped towards the edge of the penalty area, where Effiong is waiting, but the striker is unable to reach the ball and the home side easily hold on.
57' Sturridge drops deep to pick up the ball midway inside the Malta half of the pitch and immediately fires a looping lofted pass into the Malta penalty area. Lingard flies forward and attempts to latch on to the end of it, but Borg is there to cut out the danger with a well-timed interception.
S. Borg
Yellow Card
Malta
55' Lingard weaves his way down the left flank and does well to beat Borg, but the wing-back sticks out a foot to stop the youngster in his tracks, resulting in a yellow card and another free-kick for England. It's whipped towards the near post by Rooney, but Schembri is there to clear the danger with a vital header.
54' Henderson gets himself into a good position over on the left and cuts inside before trying to pick out Walcott at the far post, but the midfielder's cross is overhit and fails to find the Arsenal winger before sailing comfortably wide of the Malta goal.
52' Rose makes his way down the left wing once again before trying to swing a cross into the penalty area, but it fails to beat Fenech, who accidentally handles the ball and gives away a free-kick in a similar position to the last. This time, Rooney tries to beat Hogg with a swinging cross-cum-shot towards the back post, but the goalkeeper is easily able to push the ball over the top of the crossbar.
50' Rose twists and turns down the left flank before trying to cut into the penalty area, but he's dragged back by Kristensen and the midfielder gives away a free-kick. It's thumped into the middle of the box, where Sturridge is waiting, but Agius beats him to the ball and heads it out for a corner.
48' Alli flies towards the Malta penalty area before being dispossessed, but the ball rolls back to Rooney. The captain is in a pocket of space 25 yards away from goal and is urged to shoot, but he's quickly closed down by Camilleri and is unable to beat the defender on the edge of the box.
47' An England attack breaks down, and Malta quickly push forward on a counter through the middle of the pitch. Schembri gets the ball forward well before finding Effiong, but the striker is quickly closed down by both Stones and Cahill and ends up being dispossessed by the Manchester City defender.
46' And we're underway once again!
The two teams are making their way back out on to the pitch ahead of the start of the second half. Neither side have made any substitutions during the half-time break.
It took them 29 minutes to find a way through a stubborn Malta back line, but it's been relatively plain sailing for England thus far. The hosts have been moving the ball around nicely and have had a good pace to their attacking moves, which has resulted in them comfortably bossing possession and making life very difficult for their opponents.
HALF-TIME: ENGLAND 2-0 MALTA
45' + 2' Rooney spots a good run forward from Walcott and tries to pick out the winger with a clever lofted pass into the Malta penalty area, but Alex Muscat tracks back well and is there to clear the danger with a diving header at the vital moment.
45' + 1' England quickly regain possession before Sturridge flies into the penalty area and wins the home side another corner, this time over on the right wing. It's sent short and worked over to Rooney, but the captain brings a promising attacking move to a disappointing end with a through-ball that rolls out of play for a Malta goal-kick.
45' The fourth official has indicated that there will be two minutes of added time.
44' Sturridge and Lingard link up wonderfully well on the edge of the Malta penalty area before Rose whips a low cross into the box, but it's deflected out of play for a corner. Rooney steps up and sends the ball flying towards the edge of the six-yard box, but Effiong is there to clear the danger with a strong header.
43' Another opportunity for Sturridge! England move the ball around really nicely before Walker curls a dangerous cross into the heart of the penalty area. It finds Sturridge in front of goal and the striker does well to beat his marker in the air before sending a headed effort towards goal, but once again Hogg is able to deal with the danger.
42' Chance for Sturridge! The striker weaves his way into the right-hand side of the Malta penalty area and skips towards goal before testing Hogg at the near post, but his low shot isn't powerful enough to beat the goalkeeper, who does well to parry it away with an outstretched leg.
40' Walker and Sturridge play a quick one-two with one another deep down the right wing before the full-back tries to break into the Malta box, but he's seemingly blocked off by Alex Muscat. He turns to the referee and asks for a free-kick, but the man in charge isn't interested and allows play to go on.
D. Alli
Goal
England
38' GOAL! It's 2-0 to England! Henderson and Alli link up wonderfully well on the edge of the Malta penalty area before the latter unleashes a shot from close range, but it's pushed away by Hogg. The goalkeeper saves the effort well but can only parry the ball back to Alli, who then comfortably pokes it into the back of the net to double the home side's lead.
36' Malta put together their best attacking move of the game as they patiently pass the ball from one flank to the other. Sciberras then tries to break down the right wing before attempting to cut into the penalty area, but he's unable to do so and ends up running the ball out of play.
34' And now Cahill goes close! The resulting corner causes the Malta defenders problems as it bounces around the box. It eventually falls to Cahill near to the penalty spot, but the defender's shot is slightly rushed and isn't hit cleanly, sending it out for a goal-kick.
33' Another great stop by Hogg! Sturridge drops to the edge of the Malta penalty area and whips a lovely cross into the middle of the penalty area that finds Lingard, but the youngster's close-range effort is tipped round the far post wonderfully well by the goalkeeper.
32' Rooney steps up and whips a bouncing cross into the penalty area and towards Stones, who had made a good run forward, but the centre-back isn't able to meet it before Hogg cuts out the danger in the middle of the goal.
31' England push plenty of bodies forward as they quickly try to find a second goal, but Rose is sent crashing to the ground by a reckless challenge from Sciberras that results in a free-kick for England in an advantageous position 30 yards away from the Malta goal.
J. Henderson
Assist
England
29' That was a wonderful cross from Henderson. The Liverpool captain has impressed with his passing thus far, with several of his crosses causing problems for the Malta back line.
D. Sturridge
Goal
England
29' GOAL! England have finally taken the lead! Henderson, who has arguably been one of England's best players thus far, whips a lovely cross into the Malta penalty area, where Sturridge peels off his marker before sending an excellent header bouncing past Hogg and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
28' Henderson picks out Alli, who is surrounded by three red shirts just outside of the Malta penalty area. He does well to muscle his way past each of them before trying to break into the box, but he loses his footing at the last moment as is dispossessed just as he's about to.
26' Rose is dispossessed deep down the left wing, allowing Malta to push forward on another counter-attack. This time it's Effiong who attempts to get involved in the game, but Rooney is there to dispossess the striker on the halfway line.
24' An England attacking move breaks down, allowing Malta to push forward on a quick counter-attack. Schembri flies through the middle of the pitch and tries to penetrate the hosts' half of the pitch, but he's dispossessed by a hefty sliding challenge from Rooney that leaves him on the ground and in serious discomfort.
22' What a save by Hogg! Another wonderful cross from Henderson flies into the centre of the penalty area, where it finds Alli, but the attacking midfielder's close-range header is pushed away by the Malta goalkeeper before Sturridge fires his follow-up over the top of the crossbar.
20' Lingard goes close! A lovely lofted pass from Henderson flies over the top of the Malta defence and into the path of Lingard, who is in a great position in front of goal, but the youngster's first-time half-volley isn't hit cleanly enough and fails to trouble Hogg in the Malta goal.
D. Rose
R. Bertrand
England
19' Bertrand slowly makes his way off the pitch to be replaced by Rose in a change that Southgate wouldn't have wanted to make.
18' Bertrand looked to be moving gingerly after trying to latch on to an earlier pass from Rooney, and he's now lying on the floor and seems to have picked up a nasty muscle injury. With just 18 minutes on the clock, it looks as if his day is already done.
16' Sturridge muscles his way into the right-hand side of the Malta penalty area and spins past his marker before curling a cross-cum-shot towards goal, but it's underhit by the striker and Hogg is easily able to deal with the danger under very little pressure.
15' Rooney picks up the ball in the middle of the pitch and tries to find Bertand, who had made a good run down the left flank, but the captain's pass is overhit and fails to reach the full-back before bouncing harmlessly out of play for a Malta goal-kick.
14' As expected, England have dominated possession thus far but have failed to cause the Malta defenders too many problems. This time it's Walcott who breaks forward before firing a bouncing cross into the penalty area, but there's nobody there to meet it and Borg is able to let the ball roll out for a throw-in.
12' Bertrand breaks down the left wing and thumps a low cross into the middle of the Malta box that Hogg is just about able to parry out to the edge of the penalty area. The ball is picked up by Lingard, who is in a pocket of space, but the youngster completely mishits his shot and ends up sending it well wide of the goal.
11' England come back once again and Walker does well to get himself into a good position down the right flank, but the full-back's cross into the penalty area is poor and sails straight into the hands of Hogg before it can find a white shirt.
10' Another England attacking move fails to cause Malta too many problems, and the visitors are able to deal with the danger before pushing away on a quick counter-attack. Schembri is fouled by Alli on the halfway line, resulting in a free-kick that's thumped towards Borg before being headed out for a Malta throw-in. It's sent to Borg and the wing-back then tries to pick out Effiong with a curling cross, but it's comfortably dealt with by Hart.
8' Great stop by Hogg! Walcott and Walker link up well over on the right-hand side of the penalty area before Rooney is set up on the edge of the box, but the captain's rocket of a shot is pushed away from danger by a lovely diving save from the Malta goalkeeper, who did well to stop that from finding the back of the net.
7' Alli muscles his way towards the Malta box before being bundled over by Kristensen, resulting in a free-kick for England in an advantageous position 25 yards away from goal. Rooney steps up and unleashes a thumping shot from the set-piece, but the wall is easily able to do its job.
5' Henderson picks up the ball in the middle of the pitch and immediately tries to pick out Walcott, who had made a good run into the Malta penalty area, but the midfielder's pass is slightly overhit and fails to find the winger in front of goal.
3' After a patient start to the game from England, Rooney is dispossessed from behind by Sciberras and the Malta midfielder immediately flies forward on a quick counter-attack. He darts towards the home side's penalty area before trying to tee up Effiong, but Stones is there to cut out the danger with an easy interception.
1' And we're off! England get us underway, attacking from right to left.
The two sides are making their way out on to the pitch, with just a few minutes to go until kick-off.
Meanwhile, Malta boss Pietro Ghedin has made four alterations to the side that featured against Scotland last month, with Ryan Scicluna, Jonathan Caruana, Joseph Zerafa and Luke Gambin making way for Zach Muscat, Camilleri, Alex Muscat and Bjorn Kristensen, respectively.
Gareth Southgate has decided to make five changes to the England side that started the win against Slovakia in their last outing, with the most notable inclusion being Jesse Lingard, who replaces Adam Lallana in what will be his first appearance for the senior squad. Meanwhile, Ryan Bertrand, Dele Alli, Theo Walcott and Daniel Sturridge all come into the starting line-up to replace Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane.
Malta substitutes: Bonello, Zerafa, Scerri, Scicluna, Failla, Rowen Muscat, Farrugia, Pisani, Mifsud.
Malta (5-3-1-1): Hogg; Borg, Zach Muscat, Agius, Camilleri, Alex Muscat; Kristensen, Sciberras, Fenech; Schembri; Effiong.
England substitutes: Forster, Heaton, Keane, Smalling, Rose, Dier, Antonio, Townsend, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rashford, Vardy.
England XI (4-3-3): Hart; Walker, Stones, Cahill, Bertrand; Alli, Henderson, Rooney; Walcott, Sturridge, Lingard.
There’s just over 15 minutes left to go until kick-off, so let’s have a look at how the two teams will be lining up this afternoon…
England and Malta have only ever played one another on three previous occasions, with the last meeting, on the eve of Euro 2000, ending in a nervy 2-1 win for the Three Lions. Goals from Martin Keown and Emile Heskey just about managed to guide Kevin Keegan’s side to a narrow victory, and Southgate will certainly be hoping for a far more comfortable time this afternoon.
Malta gave Scotland a real scare in their Group F opener last month, as a goal from Alfred Effiong cancelled out Robert Snodgrass’ early opener and resulted in the two teams heading into the half-time break with the scoreline level at 1-1. Things fell apart in the second period, however, with two red cards ending the minnows' chances of holding on to a point in a game that ended 5-1 to their opponents.
Luckily for Southgate, he has been handed group minnows Malta in what should be a routine win in his first game in charge. A narrow 1-0 victory against Slovakia - made possible thanks to an injury-time Adam Lallana goal - saw England pick up all three points from their opening qualifying game, and they will be looking to repeat that feat again tonight before a potentially tough clash away to Slovenia on Tuesday.
Few thought that England could sink any lower after this summer’s embarrassing defeat against Iceland at Euro 2016, but the truly remarkable downfall of Sam Allardyce after just one game in charge means that it’s been a fortnight to forget for English football. With the former boss firmly out of the picture and the search for a permanent manager underway, it’s now up to interim head coach Gareth Southgate to instil a feeling of positivity into the Three Lions ranks.
Good afternoon and welcome to our live text commentary of today’s World Cup 2018 qualifying game between England and Malta at Wembley.
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