England Overcome Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan Materials 6 June 2009 22:19 (UTC +04:00)

Kazakhstan offered resistance as England floundered early in the first half, but Capello's side recovered to win convincingly, BBC Sport reported

First Half:

England may have taken a 2-0 lead into the break at half-time, but the preceding 45 minutes did not follow the rudimentary script that the Three Lions would have expected.

The side coached by Fabio Capello were quite often guilty of lapses in concentration and surrendered possession all too easily to their hosts.

Kazakhstan should have taken a first minute lead, when Glen Johnson made the first of a number of casual errors on the right flank. He was robbed by the dangerous Kukeyev who played a low cross into the England area. Matthew Upson cleared moments before Ostapenko could put a foot to it, and John Terry hooked clear.

The unexpected early threat dislodged the favoured side and forced them onto the back foot. Despite their higher calibre, Capello's side could not settle and frequently saw passes from deep find only the touchline as movement in the strike line lacked.

Things could have taken a turn for the worse just after the 15 minute mark. A set-piece, curled expertly by Kukeyev, found England's marking wanting and Ostepenko steered home a header from an offside position.

The withdrawal of Ostepenko with injury midway through the half seemed to distort the hosts, and they began to lose their way without their attacking fulcrum.

Gradually, the group favourites settled; Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney combined for the latter to fire over before Emile Heskey had the first significant chance of the evening for the guests.

An atrocious Mokin clearance allowed the Aston Villa forward to swap passes with Frank Lampard before striking a post.

Five minutes before the break, and England had their lead. A short corner, earned through the ingenuity of Rooney, allowed Gerrard to drive a left-footed cross to the back post, where an unmarked Gareth Barry converted the simplest of headers.

Gerrard's upfield pass nicked a deflection off a Kazakh head in injury time, and left Mokin stranded inside his own area. Under the ball, he could only palm it into the path of Emile Heskey, who notched his second goal in consecutive internationals.

Second Half:

Things followed an altogether more pedestrian pattern at the outset of the second half, with the major glitches seemingly out of the English system.

Frank Lampard gained some of the relish that had been lacking in his first half performance, and an uncharacteristically brusque challenge gave Steven Gerrard a chance to crash a drive over just off target.

Nonetheless, the Three Lions were made work for any gains by the Kazakhstan side. Skorykh responded for the hosts, but he couldn't find the target before Kukayev curled a free-kick narrowly over.

England were to extend their lead against a jaded team, even if they did not embellish the standard of their performance with 20 minutes on the clock.

Some fine, persistent wing play from Glen Johnson saw the Portsmouth man cross to the centre, from where Rooney knocked the ball on target. His initial effort was kept out by Mokin, who was powerless to prevent the Manchester United forward's swivelling volley from crashing into the top corner.

Kazakhstan's tiredness threatened to unravel all the hosts' decent first-half work as Gareth Barry almost added a fourth with a volley.

However, a tug on Heskey by Abdulin inside the area after an Ashley Cole strike gave Lampard the chance to rattle the fourth in from the penalty spot.

A late Kukayev strike, narrowly off target, briefly interrupted the keep-ball session, as did a last minute one-man pitch invasion.

England held the composure that deserted them early in the first half to record an ultimately satisfactory win.