England cruised to victory over Wales at the Millennium Stadium thanks to goals from Lampard and Bent to subject Gary Speed to his second defeat as Wales managerEngland romped to a 2-0 victory over Wales to climb back to the top of Group G and leave Gary Speed’s side rooted to the bottom of the table.
Goals from Frank Lampard and Darren Bent secured victory for the Three Lions who dominated possession and out-played their local rivals to earn the three points they needed to jump above Montenegro in the qualifying table.
England manager Fabio Capello lined-up his side in a 4-3-3 formation with Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young supporting Bent upfront, and Lampard was selected alongside Jack Wilshere and Scott Parker in a three man midfield. The real surprise came on the substitute’s bench as there was no place for Gareth Barry, Peter Crouch, Matt Jarvis or Aaron Lennon in England’s matchday squad.
There was a surprise in the Wales starting line-up as Andrew Crofts was preferred in central midfield instead of Blackpool’s David Vaughan. Otherwise Gary Speed named the side most expected with Steve Morison playing upfront on his own with Craig Bellamy, Andy King and new captain Aaron Ramsey supporting him from attacking midfield positions.
The battle lines were drawn early in this local derby match when Ashley Cole was challenged by Craig Bellamy in the second minute, the tackle went unpunished but that didn't stop the fiery Welshman exchange some choice words with the Chelsea man.
Four minutes later the deadlock was broken from the penalty spot by Lampard with his 21st goal for England. An excellent move began with John Terry bringing the ball out of defence. The captain played a neat one-two with Cole before sliding a pass into Ashley Young inside the penalty area and the Aston Villa forward was brought down by a clumsy challenge from his club mate James Collins. Portuguese referee Olegario Benquerenca immediately pointed to the penalty spot and Lampard stepped up to fire the ball past Wayne Hennessey to give the Three Lions the perfect start.
Things got better for England in the 15th minute as Bent doubled their lead with a tap-in from six yards out after another excellent England move. The build-up began with a fantastic ball from Glen Johnson inside Danny Collins for Young to run on to, the Villa forward then delivered a low cross from right side of penalty area into the six yard box and the unmarked Bent fired the ball into the roof of the net.
The visitors were dominating possession and were camped inside the Welsh half of the pitch, and the pressure nearly paid off four minutes later. Another swift passing move from England released Young down the right wing, he was given time to pick out Rooney in the penalty area but the Manchester United striker couldn’t turn his volley towards goal.
Wales were having all sorts of problems trying to contain England down their right wing as Johnson and Young linked up excellently to create more chances for the visitors. The first fell to Young but his low shot from the right side of the penalty area was saved by Hennessey and four minutes later Young released Johnson but his cross was headed clear by Ashley Williams with Rooney waiting to pounce.
The first sustained piece of pressure for Wales came just after the half hour but despite some neat passing in front of the England defence they were unable to find the pass to allow Morison to test Hart. Both Ramsey and Bellamy tried to find that perfect pass but the England defence were able to intercept both attempts much to the frustration of the home side and their supporters.
England continued to have a lot of possession despite the mini Wales revival and in the 38th minute they a flowing team move nearly created a third goal and a second for Bent. The move began with the England defenders keeping the ball before it was moved into Parker, he found Lampard and the Chelsea man released Wilshere to attack the Wales defence. The defenders backed off the Arsenal man enabling him to play a through ball between the two central defenders but there was just too much on it and Bent was unable to reach it before Hennessey claimed at the edge of his area.
Perfect start| Lampard opens the scoring from the spot
England began the second half in the same way as they had finished the first and came very close the adding a third goal in the 48th minute following a mistake from Hennessey. A poor clearance from the Wolves goalkeeper was hit straight at Young on the edge of the penalty area, he created a crossing opportunity on the right but Rooney at the back post was unable to get anything on the delivery as the ball fizzed across the Welsh six yard box.
There were some encouraging signs for Wales at the start of the second period but they were still unable to test Joe Hart in the England goal. Bellamy was the catalyst for the Welsh momentum as he sent an accurate pass over the top of Cole for King, the Leicester midfielder got onto the ball but his shot was well wide of goal.
Just after the hour another chance fell to Wales but again they were unable to force Hart to make a save. The opportunity came from a poor clearance by Terry under pressure from Morison and the Millwall striker found Ramsey on the edge of the penalty area. The Welsh captain jinked past Terry into the penalty area but fired his shot over the crossbar.
Wales’ performance improved dramatically in the second half and the introduction of David Vaughan and Ched Evans in the 65th minute seemed to spark them into life and they spent much more time inside England’s half. However despite an increase in possession they were still not able to test Hart as England recorded the third clean sheet of the qualifying campaign.
England continued to look dangerous on the counter attack but they were unable to open the Welsh defence up and create any further chances to test Hennessey. The performance of Wilshere and Parker in midfield will have particularly impressed Capello as they controlled the majority of the game with their hard work and neat passing.
In the final minute of the match substitute Stewart Downing came within inches of adding a third goal with a powerful left foot strike. The Aston Villa winger cut in from the right wing, took the ball past two defenders before shooting from 20 yards but the ball curled away from goal.