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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

Dinamo Stadion (ATT 32,000) 15th October 2008 - Kick off 19:30 Ref: T Hauge

Belarus Belarus vs England England

Belarus 1

ft

England march on in Minsk

Rooney strikes twice in 3-1 victory

Last Updated: 16/10/08 11:25am

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Gerrard is congratulated after opening the scoring

Gerrard is congratulated after opening the scoring

England maintained their perfect start in World Cup qualifying Group 6 with a 3-1 victory against Belarus.

Steven Gerrard responded to criticism of his recent performances at international level by firing England in front after 11 minutes with a fantastic strike from 30 yards.

Belarus equalised in the 28th minute when Pavel Sitko rounded off a flowing move and the home team continued to pose problems for Fabio Capello's men in an open first half.

However, England turned in an improved display after the break and regained their lead on 50 minutes when Wayne Rooney scored from Emile Heskey's cross.

Rooney grabbed his second of the night in the 74th minute after exchanging passes with Gerrard, and England cruised through the closing stages to tighten their grip at the top of the table.

Confident

Belarus knocked the ball around in a confident manner in the early stages on a bobbly pitch without over-extending the England defence.

Theo Walcott threatened to unlock the home rearguard with some trickery on the right flank before his eventual low cross only just eluded the run of Rooney who appealed in vain that he had been held back.

Then after 11 minutes Gerrard's stunning strike temporarily silenced the passionate Belarus crowd.

Rooney battled away in typical fashion in the middle of the park to win the ball before laying it off for Gerrard and his fizzing first-time effort from distance curled past the dive of Alexander Kulchy into the corner of the net.

It was the Liverpool skipper's first competitive goal for his country since his brace 19 months ago in the European Championship qualifier with Andorra in Barcelona.

But, if England thought that would knock the stuffing out of Belarus, they were very much mistaken as their opponents engineered wave after wave of attacks.

David James found himself in the thick of the action on several occasions.

Sitko twice found space outside the box to extend the Portsmouth keeper who also denied Dmitry Molosh from a similar distance.

Equaliser

Anton Putilo became the first player to be yellow-carded for a late challenge on Frank Lampard but, as the Belarus pressure started to grow, it came as no surprise when they equalised through Sitko after 28 minutes.

After putting together a move of around 20 passes, Vitaly Kutuzov and Igor Stasevich were the creators on the right with the latter checking back inside after Bridge had dived in.

He then had ample time to measure and float an inviting cross into the path of Sitko who gave James no chance with a close-range header.

England retaliated after this setback and Heskey directed a near-post header just wide from a Lampard corner.

Kulchy clung on to a low skiddy drive from Lampard and was then relieved to see Walcott strike a low shot straight at him after wriggling free inside the box.

Advantage

But England needed only five minutes of the second half to regain the advantage through Rooney.

Heskey was the creator with a powerful run into the box which took him past the challenge of Sergei Omelyanchuk before he turned the ball across the box - and Rooney did the rest with a clinical close-range finish.

Belarus were now posing little of the threat of the first half and, with 16 minutes remaining, Rooney killed off the game as a contest with his second.

Bridge played the ball into Gerrard after a dummy from Rooney who was then well positioned to receive the ball from the midfielder before clipping it past Kulchy.

Gerrard should have made it 4-1 in the closing stages but he hit the post with the goal at his mercy after rounding Kulchy.

There was just time for David Beckham to win his 107th cap as a late substitute for Rooney and overtake Sir Bobby Charlton in the all-time list.

BelarusTeam StatisticsEngland
1Goals3
11st Half Goals1
5Shots on Target7
1Shots off Target5
1Blocked Shots1
0Corners3
15Fouls19
0Offsides6
1Yellow Cards0
0Red Cards0
80.3Passing Success76.6
13Tackles18
84.6Tackles Success66.7
54.5Possession45.5
47.4Territorial Advantage52.6

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Tables

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A

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Pos Team P Pts
1 Belgium 10 26
2 Croatia 10 17
3 Serbia 10 14
4 Scotland 10 11
5 Wales 10 10
6 Macedonia 10 7

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B

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Pos Team P Pts
1 Italy 10 22
2 Denmark 10 16
3 Czech Republic 10 15
4 Bulgaria 10 13
5 Armenia 10 13
6 Malta 10 3

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Germany 10 28
2 Sweden 10 20
3 Austria 10 17
4 Republic of Ireland 10 14
5 Kazakhstan 10 5
6 Faroe Islands 10 1

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Netherlands 10 28
2 Romania 10 19
3 Hungary 10 17
4 Turkey 10 16
5 Estonia 10 7
6 Andorra 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Switzerland 10 24
2 Iceland 10 17
3 Slovenia 10 15
4 Norway 10 12
5 Albania 10 11
6 Cyprus 10 5

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Russia 10 22
2 Portugal 10 21
3 Israel 10 14
4 Azerbaijan 10 9
5 Northern Ireland 10 7
6 Luxembourg 10 6

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bosnia 10 25
2 Greece 10 25
3 Slovakia 10 13
4 Lithuania 10 11
5 Latvia 10 8
6 Liechtenstein 10 2

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 England 10 22
2 Ukraine 10 21
3 Montenegro 10 15
4 Poland 10 13
5 Moldova 10 11
6 San Marino 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Spain 8 20
2 France 8 17
3 Finland 8 9
4 Georgia 8 5
5 Belarus 8 4

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