England light up Lithuania
Written By: Robert Halter
England’s qualification for Euro 2016 in France was right on track, as the Three Lions remained six points clear of their nearest rivals at the top of Group E, before entertaining Lithuania at Wembley Stadium, end of March. In the third minute, England prized open the Lithuanian defence, as Delph’s through ball set free club captain Rooney, but his low effort clipped the bottom of the left post, before the ball rebounded to safety. But three minutes later, Rooney registered his name on the score sheet, as Lithuania’s keeper Arlauskis, pushed out a well struck shot by Welbeck, but the rebound was met by a cushioned header from Rooney, who dispatched the ball into the back of the net. On eighteen minutes, Rooney sent a header crashing against the top of the crossbar, after Sterling started the move to Welbeck, whose ball over to Rooney, left the England marksman being denied by the woodwork once again, before Henderson blazed the ball over the top. On thirty one minutes, England kept up their dominance on the game, as Henderson’s cross from the right was only half cleared by Mikuckis, but Baines lurking at the far post was unable to keep the ball down. In the thirty eighth minute, after Zulpa brought down Welbeck, the free kick by Rooney, landed directly into the clasp of Arlauskis as Lithuania were kept on the back foot. Two minutes later, after Zaliukas was booked for a hand ball, a free kick floated in by Henderson was brought down on the chest by Rooney, before Welbeck’s wayward strike soared over. Just before the break, England got their just rewards, as Baines and Henderson combined from a short corner, before Welbeck’s downward header cannoned off Lithuania’s captain, Kijanskas, to give England an unassailable 2-0 lead at half time. Three minutes into the re-start, Rooney teed the ball up for Delph, whose low shot on the volley produced a spectacular save by Arlauskis, as he dived to his left at full stretch, to turn the ball behind. On fifty two minutes, Arlauskis, had more work to do with a double handed near post block to fend away Welbeck’s cleanly struck ball, after Henderson had paved the way through. The game was out of reach for Lithuania on fifty seven minutes, when Sterling beat the offside trap to latch onto a low delivery by Rooney, before tucking the ball away into an unguarded net. It was too late in the day as Lithuania took off Mikuckis and brought on Stankevicius. England soon made changes as Barkley replaced Henderson and Hotspur’s hot in form Kane, made his senior Three Lions debut, as Rooney made way, and it took just seventy nine seconds for Kane to record his first goal for the country, as Sterling whipped the ball over and Kane’s perfectly timed header could only be pushed into the net by Arlauskis in the seventy second minute. Two minutes later, in a goal mouth scramble, Welbeck tried to force the ball in but during the melee as Arlauskis laid helpless on the floor, Matulevicius managed to fend the ball away from danger. Welbeck then made room for fellow Arsenal team mate, Walcott. Lithuania’s disappointing night was complete as Andriuskevicius was left worse for wear from a strong challenge by Sterling and a brief run out was given to Slavickas. Lithuania’s misery could have been compounded on eighty four minutes, but Delph dragged his shot wide, after Baines had exposed the opening. At the end, Lithuania changed Mikoliunas with Kazlauskas as England continued their winning ways with a fifth victory in a row during the European qualifiers.