Hodgson gets the big calls right to put England in the driving seat

The inclusion of Andy Carroll and introduction of Theo Walcott from the bench were fully justified as the Three Lions dumped Sweden out of Euro 2012
 Wayne Veysey
 England Expert Follow on


England were never truly in command. And nor did we really expect them to be.

But by recovering from what could have been a knockout blow early in the second half and overcoming opponents who were effectively England-lite, Roy Hodgson's team have showed they are at least the sum of their parts this summer.

In the process of eliminating Sweden from the tournament, they also kyboshed theories that Hodgson's team are mere containers.
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2 Goals contributed from the Arsenal man; one goal and one assist
2 Number of successful crosses from Walcott
3 Number of touches it took for Walcott to score
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100 Per cent of passes completed by the winger (five out of five)

It is clear there is little in the way of composure or ball retention capability in Hodgson's team.

But the new manager has instilled enough fighting spirit in his team to put them in a position where a draw against Ukraine on Tuesday will guarantee progress to the quarter-finals.

Should they do so, the new manager will have achieved the objective of the Football Association. Anything else will be seen as a bonus.

Despite his facial gymnastics in the dugout and some abysmal defending of set pieces by his team, this was a good night for Hodgson.

By reshaping England's midfield and selecting two orthodox forwards, the former Liverpool boss was opening himself up to accusations of taking the national team back to the dark ages.

But both his spearheads exceeded expectations. Carroll scored a header of which any England centre-forward of any era would have been proud, while there was a stamp of rare class from Welbeck in delivering his match-winning strike.


More match centre stats here

After Olof Mellberg put Sweden 2-1 up with his second goal, Hodgson wasted little time in changing his system.

The disappointing James Milner was replaced by Theo Walcott, whose impact was immediate.

The Arsenal forward surprised even himself with his equaliser but no-one with the burning pace that created the space to supply Welbeck for the winner.

In the closing stages, it seemed more likely England would score a fourth rather than Sweden a third.

We were expecting shredded nerves but not this kind of entertainment.

And credit must go to Hodgson. France were there to be contained, Sweden there to beaten. Both boxes have been ticked.

It is a new matter altogether of Hodgson taking England to the next level and commanding respect for the team's style of football.