Classy Algeria give Fabio’s boys a blue night in Green Point
English, and their marking and tackling in defence solid and aggressive.
Ziani, a tricky footballer who plays for Wolfsburg in the German Bundesliga, was a bundle of energy and was at the heart of many of Algeria’s more enterprising efforts.
The north Africans certainly hadn’t come to make up the numbers. They had come to play – and, boy, could they play! They swept crisp passes across the lush turf with abandon and played with an assured confidence that was refreshing.
Both teams had new men wearing the number one jersey last night.
England’s Robert Green was goalkeeper for the first match against the USA. It was his blunder, however, that resulted in the Americans equalising and stealing a point off Capello’s men.
Green paid the ultimate price for his howler by being dropped for last night’s match and was replaced by 39-year-old Portsmouth goalkeeper, David James.
Algerian goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi also cost his country in the opening game when his error allowed Slovenia to snatch a 1-0 win.
He, too, was left out, and replaced by Rais M’Bolhi, who plays his football for Slavia Sofia in Bulgaria and earlier this season had a trial at Manchester United.
James quickly had to deal with some tricky moments in the opening half. One, when the veteran keeper had to battle to hang on to a high, floating cross into the area, and another when defender Jamie Carragher nearly turned the ball into his own net. Both, though, James managed to escape unscathed.
And, at the end, James’ selection was justified as he dealt competently with everything else that came his way.
Tthe other new man – M’Bolhi was also called into action, in the 32nd minute, when he went down low to hang on to a Lampard shot at goal.
England carved out an opening or two towards the latter stages of the game as desperation appeared to settle intio their game. But the Algerians were compact and cohesive in containing the threat, with the two central defenders – Algerian captain Anther Yahia and Rafik Halliche – particularly dour and stolid at the back.
Just over 64,000 packed the venue here in Green Point - most of them Eng- lish supporters – but even all the “England, England, England” chants or the belting out of “God Save the Queen” could breathe any life into this England squad.
There's still one game remaining in the group, with Algeria to play the USA and England to take on group leaders Slovenia.
But based on what England have displayed so far, they'll have to improve drastically to keep at bay the knives of criticism that will surely be waving in their direction.