Hey there, and welcome to my thoughts on England's final match in the Euro qualifying period, where we take on Montenegro on their home ground. Anything but a loss tonight will take us through to the Euros officially, but Fabio Capellos has said we'll be attacking tonight, so let's hope we win.
That being said, Montenegro aren't pushovers, they held us to a draw at Wembley, and they're a threat, especially on their home surface. But, we do have the quality to beat them, we are definitely the better side and let's hope we can wrap up the qualifying tournament in style.
Here are the teams:
Montenegro: Mladen Bozovic, Zverotic, Djudovic, Savic, Kascelan, Vukcevic, Pekovic, Vladimir Bozovic, Beciraj, Jovetic, Vucinic. Subs: Blazic, Jovanovic, Batak, Djalovic, Damjanovic, Cetkovic, Delibasic.
On paper it might not sound like much but they have some strength here. Vucinic is a good goalscorer for Juventus, previously of Roma and will be a threat tonight. Keep an eye on Manchester City's defender Savic, who has made a decent start for the Sky Blues despite being only 20.
England: Hart, Jones, Cahill, Terry, Cole, Parker, Barry, Walcott, Rooney, Young, Bent. Subs: Carson, Jagielka, Baines, Lampard, Downing, Welbeck, Zamora.
News is that we'll play 4-5-1 today and in fairness, I think that's a good tactic. Montenegro will want to go for the win today and will be dangerous, so having Rooney play a deeper role will help us when required. That being said, when we have the ball I expect him to go further afield. It's a good move. As for Lampard on the bench, well, it's a difficult one after his hat-trick for Chelsea. We had balance in the previous two matches where Lampard wasn't starting, and we don't want to disrupt that. He'll play an important part in the match later on I'm sure.
2' - Positive start by England so far, Montenegro haven't settled at all, despite being the home side.
4' - Ashley Young takes a shot outside the box after a corner is taken, it wasn't too far considering the box was crowded.
5' - WALCOTT! Saved. The Montenegro box was surprisingly empty and it lands well for Walcott to take a shot and its low and straight at the keeper. That being said Bozovic didn't get his body over it fully and it could have crept in.
7' - The Montenegro players start dancing around our players, using lovely skill to pass our players like butter. Finally some confidence. They could have scored but we do enough to clear it uncomfortably.
10' - GOAL! Ashley Young! That was just so easy, Rooney has the ball just outside the penalty box in the centre and passes to Walcott on the right flank who crosses inch perfect to the head of Young! The defence was placid at best!
13' - This is a very strange Montenegro side, they look so uninterested and incapable, but that moment of pure football around the seventh minute is completely contrasting of that. Are they in this match or not? It doesn't look like it at the moment.
16' - Not a single shot at goal for Montenegro so far.
19' - The commentators are saying that Walcott is due a goal. Maybe. But he's so inconsistent.
22' - A high ball enters our third and is bouncing awkwardly. Brad Jones heads it back to Joe Cole before it becomes even more dangerous.
25' - The match is quite dead at the moment. Montenegro don't look bothered and England don't need to apply much pressure as they're ahead.
27' - Haha, there was a replay of Capello being a bit animated and nearly tripping over some Lucozade bottles. Stuart Pearce moves them out of the way.
29' - Montenegro are finally starting to look alive. Around a minute ago they had a tame effort over the bar from a free kick, and now they're attacking on the left flank more.
30' - GOAL! 2-0! I should eat my words! A counter attacking move ends in Rooney cutting to the left of the penalty box and Darren Bent makes the perfect run on the right side, Rooney cuts the entire defence out and Bent taps it in! He's barely been involved in the play until now!
32' - I didn't expect Montenegro to be this much of a pushover. I gave them a lot of respect before the match started, because they are on their day a good side. But I think that result against Wales has made them lose a lot of confidence.
35' - Well that's England pretty much through to the Euros. We have been discretely impressive in this tournament, not that we had the most difficult group in the world, I mean, erm Europe.
37' - How far will England get in the Euros? I'm definitely intrigued. Like every tournament, I desperately want us to go far but have my doubts.
41' - There's not much to report at the moment that's why I'm talking on about the Euros. The ball has for the most part been in the middle of the pitch.
43' - Kascelan takes a shot from far out and it's well wide.
44' - GOAL! Zverotic! The ball is crossed square to him from the right, he's just inside the penalty box and he chests it down and shoots low into the right corner, squirming under Joe Hart!
45' - Half time. No added time.
Well that came out of nowhere. Apart from the rare glimpse, Montenegro havebeen absolutely atrocious today. We've floored them without looking good at all. But that goal at the end of the match now means game on. The home crowd will roar them on, their manage will fire them on. I reckon the second half will be a completely different animal now. England need to stay strong otherwise my words earlier in this post are meaningless about them pretty much being in the Euros.
Half time change for Montenegro: Milan Jovanovic replaces Mladen Kascelan.
49' - Young crosses deep into their box but it's dealt with nicely.
51' - That should have been a penalty for Montenegro then! Brad Jones tries
to take the ball from Jovetic and sticks a leg out to the side of the player, attempting and failing to get the ball.
54' - Beciraj does fantastically well, taking on around three defenders who just can't take possession of the ball! Eventually his shot is well over because he didn't have full control of the ball but the warning signs are definitely there.
55' - As I predicted earlier, the game is alive now. Montenegro want something from this game and they could get something in honesty as our defence haven't really looked solid at all today.
59' - England Sub: Stewart Downing comes on for Ashley Young, who had a very good game today.
62' - Another potential moment of danger when England who are playing a high up defensive line almost get taken out completely as the ball is chipped over. Joe Hart rushes quickly enough to collect.
62' - Montenegro Sub: Dejan Damjanovic replaces Fatos Beciraj
63' - England Sub: Frank Lampard comes on for Darren Bent, who the goal aside, has been missing a lot today.
64' - I think that sub is a good move. Bent was barely involved, and Lampard can play as a second striker, a role he doesn't do often but has the qualities to play well with. Rooney playing off Lampard should be interesting.
66' - A wild effort from Vladimir Bozovic wasn't far off even though it was a sky shot. Joe Hart jumped onto his crossbar just to be sure it wasn't creeping in!
69' - Both teams are trying to score now, with a lot of counter attacking play on both ends. It's a much more entertaining game now, not that it's been through the roof at all.
72' - RED CARD! Rooney is off. What a dickhead. An absolute dickhead. Miodrag Dzudovic successfully shields the ball from Rooney, who just kicks the defender in the shin because he can't get the ball. He didn't even help him up or anything. Stupid.
72' - England Sub: Theo Walcott comes off and Danny Welbeck comes on instead. All three England subs have now been used.
74' - Rooney had a decent game up until then. He assisted both our goals and was doing well in his role in the first half as the 'in the hole' player behind Bent. But that was just idiotic. All the focus will now be on him and the betting scandal his dad was involved in, in the papers tomorrow. How pathetic.
76' - So we have fourteen minutes now to defend our lead. It's not going to be that big a deal if they equalise, we'll still go through. Unless they score two of course haha. Let's hope we can defend our lead with ten men and win with some dignity.
79' - Montenegro Sub: Vladimir Bozovic goes off and Andrija Delibasic takes his place. That's all six subs for both sides now.
80' - Downing! Over the bar. He still hasn't scored for England yet by the way, which is a shame.
84' - Andrija Delibasic! Offside. It went over the bar anyway, but that was another glimpse of danger.
86' - Milorad Pekovic skims a shot and it beats everyone and thankfully the keeper too! Actually on another glace it was a great save by Hart!
87' - Controversy as a Montenegro player goes down in the box! The player is ruled to have dived. Jovetic gets a yellow card for diving.
90' - GOAL! Delibasic! They finally get their goal. A lovely cross from the right is headed into the top left corner by the striker! It's his second goal for the national side in four appearances.
90' - Three minutes of added time. Let's hope we can hold on for a draw then.
90+3' - Full time.
Well we did it, we're through to the Euros. The Montenegrins are celebrating too as their point from this match confirms they'll be in the playoffs. We all win. The fans have stormed onto the pitch to celebrate. A great moment for their country, as they're only 5 years old, in football years anyway.
To wrap up, England took advantage of an abysmal Montenegro side in the first 44 minutes and scored twice. Their goal on the edge of half time motivated them forward for the second half. They were dangerous, although so were we. Wayne Rooney should be ashamed of himself. That was the type of kick out he'd do when he was eighteen. He didn't even look sorry. What an idiot. It put more pressure onto the England team, and after a lot of near chances, they got their second goal.
We weren't great today. Not by any stretch. But we were good enough. The next few friendlies in the next 9 months are pivotal to making sure we have ANY chance of even thinking of winning the tournament. On this performance we're not good enough. But let's hope we improve. Until next time, take care.