England huff and puff in vain
Montenegro stay top of Group G after holding their lacklustre opponents
Last Updated: October 13, 2010 8:02am
Johnson shone at times on a poor night for England
Montenegro remain top of Group G after holding England to a goalless draw in their Euro 2012 qualifier at Wembley on Tuesday night.
Zlatko Kranjcar's side are still unbeaten and have yet to concede a goal in qualifying while they maintain their three-point advantage over the Three Lions.
England struggled to create throughout the encounter, which saw Bolton Wanderers striker Kevin Davies make his international debut as he came on as a late substitute.
The home side did have a strong case for a penalty turned down following an apparent handball by Milan Jovanovic, who moments later hit the crossbar to ensure England breathed a huge sigh of relief.
As Montenegro arrived nursing a hat-trick of single goal victories but without main striker Mirko Vucinic, the game's pattern was not hard to predict.
Although the visitors did offer a sporadic threat, most of their industry was concentrated in the third of the field England struggled to penetrate.
It took no time at all for England to work out there was no clear path through, so they attempted to go long and wide instead.
A series of raking Steven Gerrard passes to the touchline released Adam Johnson and Ashley Young, although the end product was lacking.
Gerrard looked as though he was trying to prove a point.
Overlooked for the captaincy by Fabio Capello, the Liverpool skipper remains the English heartbeat. If anyone could break Montenegro down, it would probably be him.
Had Peter Crouch's legs been just long enough to reach another of those potentially inspired passes, delivered from inside Gerrard's own half, as it bounced into the area, the whole game might have changed.
As it was, Crouch was unable to make contact, which at least he was able to do when Glen Johnson curled over a cross from the right, only for the Tottenham man, so prolific for his country, to steer his header over.
Apart from that, the nearest England came was through a long-range free-kick from Adam Johnson, who looked quite comfortable on his first competitive start.
The effort flashed wide but at least Mladen Bozovic had a brief moment of panic, which was a rarity in itself.
Hunting in packs, not afraid to concede free-kicks to halt England's momentum, collect yellow cards when the need arose and willing to make the most of knocks they suffered to disrupt the game even further, it did not make for much of a spectacle. It was very effective though.
Having dropped too deep in that opening period, Gerrard tried to push into a more advanced position.
He provided the pass which allowed a previously quiet Wayne Rooney to fire a long-range effort over.
It was a frustrating evening for the Manchester United man though, who after voicing his protests at Stefan Savic's cynical challenge on Ashley Cole that brought a booking, duly picked one up himself when he raced back 50 yards and needlessly slid in to trip Elsad Zverotic.
Almost an hour had passed before England created a decent chance.
Not surprisingly, it was created for Rooney by Gerrard, who picked his fellow Merseysider out inside the penalty area with a perfectly weighted pass.
Rooney was onto it in an instant but Bozovic was equal to his first-time effort and pounced on the loose ball before Crouch could turn it home.
When Young was ruled to have dived trying to win a penalty when he tumbled over Miodrag Dzudovic, it was the trigger for a period of more English frustration as Montenegro stubbornly failed to drift from their one dimensional game plan.
Capello's response was to make Kevin Davies England's oldest debutant since 1950. Davies was booked before the end.
He also provided Rooney with the neat cushioned header that ended with Bozovic making another fine save to deny the striker.
Capello was reduced to screaming for a penalty when Jovanovic appeared to use an arm to get the ball under control with no-one around him.
Jovanovic got away with that one, and almost profited in spectacular fashion at the other end with a shot that came crashing back off the bar, so close to sealing the finest result in Montenegro's short history.In truth, it probably still was.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||0|
|5||Shots off Target||4|
European Championship Qualifying
Tue 12th Oct - Group C
Faroe Islands1 - 1N Ireland
Estonia0 - 1Slovenia
ItalyA - ASerbia
Tue 12th Oct - Group B
Armenia4 - 0Andorra
Slovakia1 - 1Rep Ireland
Macedonia0 - 1Russia
Tue 12th Oct - Group A
Azerbaijan1 - 0Turkey
Kazakhstan0 - 3Germany
Belgium4 - 4Austria
Tue 12th Oct - Group E
Finland1 - 2Hungary
Netherlands4 - 1Sweden
San Marino0 - 2Moldova
Tue 12th Oct - Group F
Latvia1 - 1Georgia
Greece2 - 1Israel
Tue 12th Oct - Group D
Belarus2 - 0Albania
France2 - 0Luxembourg
Tue 12th Oct - Group I
Liechtenstein0 - 2Czech Rep
Scotland2 - 3Spain
Tue 12th Oct - Group H
Denmark2 - 0Cyprus
Iceland1 - 3Portugal
Tue 12th Oct - Group G
Switzerland4 - 1Wales
England0 - 0Montenegro
European Championship Qualifying Group A
European Championship Qualifying Group B
|2||Republic of Ireland||10||21|
European Championship Qualifying Group C
European Championship Qualifying Group D
European Championship Qualifying Group E
European Championship Qualifying Group F
European Championship Qualifying Group G
European Championship Qualifying Group H
European Championship Qualifying Group I