Lithuania 0 England 3: Easy-peasy does it

Date published: Monday 12th October 2015 9:47

Ross Barkley Adam Lallana

England wrote their name into the record books on a cold night in Lithuania, becoming the first Three Lions side to qualify for a major championships by winning every match.

Roy Hodgson’s men reached the European Championship finals with three matches to spare – but ensured their final competitive fixture before next summer’s trip to France would be a memorable one.

England’s 3-0 win was as comfortable as expected against a side ranked 116th in the world, with the triumph in Vilnius seeing them become just the sixth side ever to reach the Euro finals with a 100 per cent record.

It was an impressive end to Group E by the Three Lions, who boasted a two-goal lead by half-time after Ross Barkley’s long-range effort deflected home and Harry Kane’s shot went in off Lithuania goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis.

A fierce Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain added extra gloss to a scoreline that some inside the tiny LFF Stadium appeared to care little about, preferring instead to clash in the home end before and during the encounter.

Kane, Barkley and Adam Lallana were the only players to retain their starting berth as Roy Hodgson named an experimental England side in Lithuania.

The attacking trio were the only survivors from Friday’s European Championship qualifier against Estonia, with Phil Jagielka captaining the side in the absence of Wayne Rooney, Gary Cahill and Joe Hart.

Jamie Vardy, Jonjo Shelvey and Jack Butland were amongst those brought in at the LFF Stadium, where uncapped Danny Ings was amongst the substitutes after injury ruled him out of Friday’s match.

Unfortunately, the minutes leading up to kick-off revolved around what was happening off the field.

Riot police were forced into the stand behind the goal as trouble flared up as locals appeared to launch into England supporters sat in the home end.

The authorities’ presence remained as the match got under way on a bitterly cold evening in Vilnius, where Hodgson quickly found himself in trouble with the officials.

It was unclear just why Danish referee Kenn Hansen ran over to speak with the England boss, but the visitors’ superior ability on the artificial turf was far more obvious.

Kane was proving the biggest early threat, twice forcing Lithuania and Watford goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis into action within the opening 15 minutes.

The Tottenham striker continued to prove a nuisance for the hosts, forcing another save after collecting a pass from Barkley, turning and taking a shot from the edge of the box.

Barkley took a leaf out of Kane’s book by trying his own effort from range – a shot that brought England a 29th-minute opener.

Trying his luck from 25 yards, Friday’s man-of-the-match saw his strike take a big deflection off Tomas Mikuckis and beat Arlauskis.

Pockets of England fans celebrated around the tiny LFF Stadium, leading tensions to rise where trouble had brewed earlier – with police appearing to use an unspecified liquid to separate supporters.

Jack Butland – the first Stoke player to start for England since Mark Chamberlain in 1984 – produced a diving save to deny Lukas Spalvis when the hosts attempted to level, but they soon fell further behind.

Kane collected a pass from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and played a neat one-two with Lallana, before hitting a strike that hit the base of the post and rebounded in off goalkeeper Arlauskis.

England continued in the ascendancy as half-time came and went, with Watford back-up Arlauskis doing well to smother Kane’s latest attempt.

Their duel continued minutes later after Oxlade-Chamberlain robbed Linas Klimavicius on the right flank and sent in a cross. Lithuania’s goalkeeper saved the initial attempt, but Kane’s effort from the rebound was going in until a timely interception.

Arlauskis continued to impress from the resulting corner, getting down well to stop Barkley heading home a Lallana corner.

Danny Ings was introduced in place of Kane for his England debut and was joined on the field by Dele Alli after the visitors stretched their lead in the 62nd minute.

Kyle Walker intercepted and played Oxlade-Chamberlain behind the Lithuania defence, with the Arsenal attacker rifling into the top right-hand corner.

Arlauskis was soon, though, proving a sturdy last line of defence again, denying Ings a debut goal from distance.

Shelvey and Vardy received bookings after one another for charging down a free-kick that Vytautas Andriuskevicius eventually got away, although Butland was a match for that effort towards the end of this one-sided encounter.

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