Jake’s Take on a thrilling night in Kiev...
England knew exactly what they were going to get against Sweden – they knew they would be tested physically all over the pitch and this why the decision to start Andy Carroll proved Roy Hodgson was not afraid to adapt his team.
The first half showed a typically determined performance from Scott Parker, who was unlucky not to open the scoring with an excellently struck effort which was well saved by Swedish goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson.
Carroll showed exactly why he was included on 23 minutes when his superbly powerful header beat Isaksson in the Swedish net. A lot must be said for about Steven Gerrard’s assist for the goal - as I doubt you’ll see a more pin-point cross all tournament.
After Carroll’s opener, England remained in control until half time and no-one would have thought that after only 14 minutes of the second half that they would have been 2-1 down but after two defensive lapses at set-pieces, that is how it was.
Up until these errors, England looked assured at the back with Glen Johnson, whose positional awareness is usually questionable, probably our best defender after making some important challenges. But Sweden’s revival shook England and their nerves were highlighted when Joe Hart failed to control Joleon Lescott’s sloppy back pass, giving away a corner.
With Hodgson’s undefeated England record under threat, he reacted. He threw on Theo Walcott for James Milner and the Arsenal man took only 4 minutes to make his mark, smashing in the equaliser with a swerving shot from outside the box.
From then on, Roy’s boys took back control and with 12 minutes left on the clock, it was Walcott again who was pivotal in another England goal.
He burst into the area before providing a dangerous cross which Danny Welbeck was more than happy to get on the end of, showing outstanding technique, producing a well measured back-flick to give his country back the lead.
England managed to keep the lead this time and could have added a fourth and made the score look even nicer on the eye but Isaksson made a brilliant save from a close-range Gerrard volley – this would have been another assist for Walcott who arguably was the man of the match after his contribution.
After the France game, Hodgson said that England had to improve going forward and create more chances and with three goals last night, they did that for sure. The optimists will say England only made two mistakes at the back – mistakes they have to learn from.
The Three Lions’ showed great spirit in their performance against the Swedes and the win should provide an endless belief to an England team with few believers.
image: © Mick Baker