England 2-0 Estonia: Theo takes centre stage

Date published: Friday 9th October 2015 9:35

Theo Walcott may have started out wide for England, but he took centre stage with a well-taken goal in a 2-0 victory over Estonia in Euro 2016 qualifying.

The Arsenal striker made it seven goals in his last nine appearances for club and country with a clever turn and finish on the stroke of half-time after an excellent assist from Ross Barkley.

Raheem Sterling made it 2-0 late on after great work from substitute Jamie Vardy, and now only Lithuania stand in the way of England making it ten wins from ten in this qualifying campaign.

England understandably had the (three) lion’s share of possession at Wembley, with Walcott, Barkley, Sterling and Adam Lallana all testing Estonia keeper Mihkel Aksalu throughout.

The victory not only maintains England’s perfect record from nine qualifying games thus far, it ensures Roy Hodgson’s men will be among the top seeds at next summer’s tournament.

For the most part, England could not puncture an organised and hard-working Estonian team, who stand 87th – below Iraq and Guatemala – in the FIFA rankings.

However, there were flashes of brilliance, mainly from the likes of Walcott, Lallana and Barkley.

If they beat Lithuania in Vilnius on Monday, they will become only the sixth side in history to qualify for the European Championship with a pristine qualifying record.

Wayne Rooney, out with an ankle injury, received a huge round of applause when he collected a golden boot from Sir Bobby Charlton before kick-off for breaking his scoring record.

After the pair retreated to the stands, the cheers gave way to silence as a dull opening half ensued.

Walcott volleyed at Aksalu and Barkley fluffed two chances to beat the Estonia goalkeeper.

A brief moment of alarm was caused in the home defence when Taijo Teniste gained space in the box, but Chris Smalling blocked his shot.

Just when it looked like the Estonians had managed to hold out for the first half, Barkley sliced open the visitors’ defence to find Walcott, who took one touch before rolling the ball past Aksalu.

Barkley brought the home fans to the edge of their seats with a 40-yard sprint but he was dispossessed when he had options at either side of him.

The midfielder redeemed himself somewhat moments later when he drifted in from the right flank past two Estonians and unleashed a powerful left-foot drive that whistled by Aksalu’s far post.

Barkley landed his next shot – another high drive – on goal but the Estonian stopper scrambled to his right and tipped it over the bar.

Hodgson brought Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Vardy on to inject some life into the game and it was the Leicester forward who helped put the win beyond doubt five minutes from time.

Vardy latched on to Kane’s flick-on from a long punt up field from Joe Hart and he squared for Sterling, who had the simplest of finishes.

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