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September 2, 2011
• Stadion Vasil Levski, Sofia
Referee: F. De Bleeckere
• Attendance: 27230
G. Cahill 13'
W. Rooney 21', 45'+
Fulltime in Sofia and England pick up the three points with a routine win against a very poor Bulgarian side. Nothing spectacular from England, but they were good value for their victory.
90' + 2'
Again, Rooney looks for his hat-trick, but after good work from Milner down the right, Rooney is crowded out by Marquinhos who blocks the United man's shot.
Good chance for England there! Milner did well down the right and played in a great cross, but Rooney couldn't quite reach it as the ball flashed across the face of the goal. Still no hat-trick for Rooney.
Here is another update from Vasil in Sofia: Time is ticking away for Bulgaria to a get a consolation goal. Clueless in attack, and laughable in defence, Bulgaria has a long way to go to capture the past glories.
Some casual defending there as Ivanov looks to take the ball out of defence, but Milner's combative nature brings him to get a good tackle in, but Ivanov luckily retains possession and clears. England on the search for a fourth here.
Yellow Card Zhivko Milanov
Bulgaria struggling to even get a touch of the ball at the moment. It's clear both sides are just waiting for the fulltime whistle with the match already decided. It would take an astonishing comeback now for Bulgaria to get anything out of this game.
England looking content to just pass the ball amongst themselves now, but still look dangerous when attacking with Wayne Rooney in the mood and in the search for his hat-trick.
What a chance that was for Walcott! Rooney did well to feed his pass through to the Arsenal man who was effectively one-on-one with Mihaylov, but his finish was poor and completely misses the target. He really should have done better there.
Popov with an attempt as he goes for goal from 25 yards, but the shot was poor and is well wide.
As Bulgaria defender deeper and deeper, Rooney is dropping back more often than usual, but his ability allows him to dictate the match when he does so, although limit England's threat in the area.
Half-chance for England as Barry plays a high-ball into the area towards Rooney. The United striker gets his header away, but it loops up and into Mihaylov's hands.
The match is just going through a pedestrian period as neither side seems too interested in committing too many players forward, however this will hopefully end when the substitutes settle into the match.
Here's Vasil's latest update: In 1968 Bulgaria drew 1 1 with England at Wembley with Levski Sofia and Bulgaria legend Georgi Asparuhov scoring one of the goals of the century to stun the then World Champions.
Yellow Card Georgi Sarmov
Decent attempt by Parker there as he charges towards goal before shooting with the outside of his right foot, but Mihaylov made the save.
So close to a fourth for England! The visitors hit Bulgaria on the counter attack and Downing got on the end of Walcott's cross, heading back across goal, but his attempt hits the far post.
Great save by Hart! A right-sided corner is whipped in by Martin Petrov and Ivanov gets on the end of it, but Hart is equal to it and parries it away.
From the free-kick, Bulgarian defender Ivanov rises highest and gets a header away, however it sails over the crossbar.
Georgiev runs straight into Cole and wins a free-kick out on the right wing. Good chance for a good delivery here.
At the beginning of this second half, Vasil suggests a change of plan is needed for Bulgaria: Bulgaria need a change of plan if they at least want to salvage some pride. This definitely means Genkov should go as he has been clearly struggling agains Terry and Cahill. He has shown nothing to justify his selection. Gone are the days of Trifon Ivanov and Mihaylov forming the defence which propelled Bulgaria to the fourth place at the 1994 World Cup. Gone are the days of the legendary Stoichkov, who used to strike fear in the hearts of the opposition.
And here we go with the second half.
Vasil understand the Bulgarian fans are not happy with their team's performance: Check and mate. Rooney makes it three for England, and the game is now over as a contest. Sad development for 30000 Bulgaria fans, who paid to see their team at least put up a fight, which is something they are not doing. Some of the supporters are calling for Matthauss head.
Here is Vasil's take on the third goal: England have switched to autopilot as Bulgaria are struggling to crack The Tree Lionss water tight defence. Half time can not come soon enough for Lothars men.
45' + 2'
Halftime in Sofia and England, despite not playing out of their skin, look good value for their lead and look very dangerous when they attack.
45' + 1'
Goal Wayne Rooney
45' + 1'
GOAL!!!!! Great goal by Rooney and England! The move started in the England half as Parker blocked a Petrov shot, allowing Walcott to march through towards the Bulgarian area. Just before getting there, he played a clever reverse pass to Young who in-turn passed the ball towards the far post where Rooney was arriving late. Lovely move there.
It's now England who are playing the sloppy passing as they give possession back to their opponents almost as soon as they enter the Bulgarian half. They look as though they already on their way to the changing rooms for haltime.
England being forced to defend in numbers here as Bulgaria finally exert some substantial pressure on their visitors. Their threat is coming from the wings through Martin Petrov and Georgiev, but they aren't getting many shots away.
Atttempt on goal for Bulgaria, but not even a half-chance as Martin Petrov goes for goal from some thirty yards. However, it rolls along the floor and into Hart's arms. The homeside are in this game now as they are holding the English in their own half at the minute.
Yellow Card Scott Parker
England looking and sounding comfortable in Sofia as the travelling fans give another rendition of the national anthem, but this match still has the potential to be dangerous. A goal for Bulgaria could spur the hosts on.
Good play by Georgiev as he beats Smalling and whips in a cross from the left, but Cole is able to make a good diving-headed clearance.
Here is Vasil's take on the second England goal: Laughable defending by Bulgarias reaguard as the hosts concede once again from the left side of the defence. The fans are still cheering on the team despite the terrible development.
Chris Smalling to the rescue there as a cross from England's left catches Hart out and flies past him away from his reach, but the United defender headed out for a corner before Petrov could score.
Here's another update from Vasil: Martin Petrov with a fine low cross from the left, but Genkov does not get his drift and the chance goes begging. The Bolton winger is obviously angered by his team mates apathy. There goes Rooney, 0-2. Bulgarias chances of progression are now vanishing.
This has been all too easy so far for England who look like scoring every time they get near Bulgaria's area. That's no to say England have been brilliant so far. They haven't been anything special, but the hosts have been poor in this opening 25 minutes, giving the ball away far too easily.
Goal Wayne Rooney
GOAL!!! Wayne Rooney doubles England's lead! Stewart Downing whipped in an inviting corner and the United hitman rose above the Bulgarian defence and John Terry to head home.
Decent chance for Bulgaria there as Martin Petrov smashes the ball across the England goal hoping for a touch from a teammate, but no one got on the end of it and England get a goal-kick. Had a Bulgarian gambled, they would have equalised.
Scott Parker and Gareth Barry are controlling the midfield now, playing short passes between themselves.
Here is an update from Vasil: Cahill's opener has upset the rhythm of the Lions, who started so brightly, but are now trailing. The aformentioned Genkov nearly got the equaliser in the following attack, but Englands reaguard managed to recover.
Nearly a nice link-up by England as Rooney dropped deep and looked for Cole in behind the right-back, but Cole was stretching all the time and could knock the ball back into the area where Young was waiting, conceding a goalkick.
Goal Gary Cahill
GOAL!!!! England take the lead! That corner was never cleared properly and Barry eventually played a nice ball over the last line of defence and Gary Cahill did well to bring the ball down and poke it past the 'keeper.
Corner for England after Ashley Young and Cole combine in the area, but Cole's shot is deflected.
England look like they're starting to take control of the match as they are holding the hosts in around their own area. It appears the visitors best way of attacking Bulgaria looks to be down the wings with Walcott and Smalling already causing trouble
Scrappy opening here with both sides giving possession away very cheaply and tackles flying in, particularly from the hosts.
Neither side has managed to grab control of the match just yet with the ball spending a lot of time in the air. Expect this power struggle to continue for a good few minutes yet.
And we're underway in Sofia!
Here's another update from Vasil, who points out a surprise in the Bulgarian starting XI: "The surprising starter for Bulgaria tonight is Tsvetan Genkov, who generally deputises for Makriev or Rangelov. Actually the spot in front of Popov is up for grabs so Genkov will be keen to impress."
According to Opta, Wayne Rooney's last three goals for England have all been assisted by Glen Johnson, therefore Walcott and Smalling - who is making his debut - will hope to produce the same sort of creativity down the right-hand side.
This match represents the first competitive England match that Frank Lampard has not started when available since 2007.
Providing regular updates for us from Sofia tonight is Vasil Kotsev, and here is his first of the evening: "Hello from the half packed Vasil Levski. Both sets of players warming up before the first whistle as the stadium is getting filled. The English support, around 700 fans have already been accomodated. No stones on the pitch as Rooney said before the game, and 20000 Bulgarian fans in the stadium will surely remind the striker of that."
England line-up as follows: Hart; Smalling, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Walcott, Barry, Parker, Downing; Young; Rooney
The Bulgaria team for tonight is: Mihaylov; Bandalovski, Bodurov, Genkov, Georgiev; Ivanov, Milanov, M Petrov, S Petrov; Popov, Zanev
Good evening and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE commentary of the Euro 2012 qualifier between Bulgaria and England.
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