Three Lions warm up with win
Lampard and Defoe secure friendly victory for Capello's men
Last Updated: September 5, 2009 9:03pm
Lampard: Set England on their way
England defeated Slovenia 2-1 in a friendly at Wembley to boost their preparations for crucial World Cup qualifying.
Frank Lampard opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the first-half and Jermain Defoe doubled the lead after the break as Fabio Capello's side, who conceded a late Zlatan Ljubijankic header, warmed up for Wednesday's qualifier versus Croatia.
The Three Lions, who can book a place at the World Cup with three points next week, kept the ball nicely in the first half, but they were made to work by their slick opponents.
However, Capello's men took the lead in the 31st minute when Lampard converted a penalty which had been softly awarded following a collision between Wayne Rooney and Bostjan Cesar.
Tottenham striker Defoe, a half-time substitute, then continued his fine form for club and country when hitting England's second from the edge of the Slovenia box in the 63rd minute.
The visitors, though, grabbed a cherished consolation with five minutes remaining as Glen Johnson failed to prevent Nejc Pecnik from crossing and Zlatan Ljubijankic nipped in to nod past Robert Green.
Now Capello must decide whether to leave things as they are, or elevate Defoe into his starting line-up.
In fact, Capello has quite a lot of thinking to do. Robert Green suffered a couple of early problems and £22million defender Joleon Lescott allowed Ljubijankic to escape his clutches.
In addition, Rooney failed to convert three fine chances to score, having one shot blocked, another hit a post and a third booted off the line.
He could claim an assist for England's opener though as he was the man dragged down in the box to allow Lampard to drive home the penalty.
Approach and style
As Slovenia were hand-picked by Capello as opponents who most mirror Croatia in both approach and style, the amount of time he spent at the edge of his technical area must be a concern.
Too often the visitors' forwards were able to run at exposed England defenders, who in turn left Green vulnerable.
The England goalkeeper may have been making his fourth consecutive start but in international terms he is a rookie.
Much like David James in his 'Calamity' era, Green is prone to rushes of blood and if referee Jonas Eriksson had spotted a deliberate handball outside the area, England might have been playing with 10 men for 88 minutes.
If that was not enough, Green then came racing out of his goal to slide at the feet of Milivoje Novakovic after the English rearguard had been pierced.
Thankfully, Novakovic chose to stay on his feet - and eventually curl a shot over - rather than dangle out a leg and wait for the contact.
Capello's agitation was obvious. Thankfully, the Three Lions stirred before their manager reached for his hairdryer.
That Rooney was at the centre of England's revival did not come as a surprise.
The Manchester United striker had already glanced a near-post header wide from Johnson's cross when he cut inside Miso Brecko and Cesar, then opened up his angle for a shot that would have tested the Slovenian goal if Cesar had not recovered his ground.
John Terry thundered a header against the bar as a wave of confidence went coursing through English veins.
Still, it needed the assistance of the referee for England to get their goal.
It did seem Rooney was beating the ground more in frustration than expectation when he was sent tumbling by Cesar as the pair tussled to reach Steven Gerrard's cross.
But referee Jonas Eriksson was well disposed to England and had spotted the shirt-pulling that preceded it. Lampard drove home the spot-kick.
Rooney should really have scored himself on England's next decent attack when Matthew Upson stooped low to flick on Lampard's corner.
Most of the goal was gaping as Rooney took aim. But he could only strike the outside of a post.
In contrast to his fellow Merseysider, Gerrard had been slightly subdued. He almost produced a moment of pure class before the break through.
After collecting Gareth Barry's pass, Gerrard advanced on the Slovenian goal and let fly with a curling shot that nearly scraped the paint off a post.
As promised, Capello made four changes at the interval, which led to a rather disjointed opening to the second period.
But within 18 minutes of Defoe's arrival, he had taken his tally to five in what constitutes three second-half substitute appearances.
Fellow new arrival Aaron Lennon returned a pass to his Tottenham team-mate. Defoe still had plenty to do but found a shot which sliced through a gaggle of Slovenian defenders and ended up in the bottom corner.
For Rooney though, there was no end to the frustration as the lively Lennon darted into the box and cut a cross back the forward would normally have buried.Instead he found the only man who could keep it out and Matej Mavricrozic bundled off the line before Ljubijankic scored late on.
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||1|
|9||Shots off Target||3|