Brian Glanville

How good are Eng­land?

World Soccer - - CONTENTS - Brian GLANVILLE

It was only with two scram­bled goals that Eng­land achieved what was surely their just deserts

Eng­land, praise be, have gone through to the next stage of the cur­rent Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion, but has the gen­eral eu­pho­ria been ex­ag­ger­ated?

There is no ques­tion that, on bal­ance of play, the vic­tory over Croa­tia was well de­served, and that Eng­land’s firsthalf dom­i­nance de­served to put them com­fort­ably ahead. But, against the run of play, Croa­tia took the lead in a man­ner that im­pugned an er­ratic Eng­land de­fence and it was only with two scram­bled goals that Eng­land achieved what was surely their just deserts.

The open­ing goal which Eng­land em­bar­rass­ingly gave away posed a large ques­tion mark over the Eng­land de­fence.

Croa­tia, ar­guably, should have scored much ear­lier, when a bla­tant er­ror by keeper Jor­dan Pick­ford, al­low­ing a ball to bounce back off his chest un­der pres­sure, pre­sented a gap­ing goal to Ante Re­bic, who could do no bet­ter than shoot over the bar. When An­drej Kra­maric re­ceived the ball in the box with his back to goal, he twisted and turned to hold off the de­fence be­fore let­ting fly a shot which de­flected off Eric Dier to end in the net.

By that time Eng­land should have been well ahead, but it took a wor­ry­ingly long time be­fore they turned their su­pe­ri­or­ity into win­ning goals.

In the pre­vi­ous game against Croa­tia, in a de­serted sta­dium, they de­served to win, hav­ing twice hit the wood­work, but had to set­tle for a goal­less draw.

Re­mem­ber, though, that this highly un­pre­dictable Croa­tia team, which had beaten Eng­land in the pre­vi­ous World Cup, had been thrashed 6-0 by Spain, who they ul­ti­mately pro­ceeded to beat in the re­turn with a late goal.

So all credit and praise to Eng­land for turn­ing the game around, but let us keep a sense of pro­por­tion. On the same day as Eng­land’s vic­tory, Switzer­land brought off an as­ton­ish­ing and cru­cial vic­tory at home to Bel­gium, who, to many of us, had seemed the best team in the pre­ced­ing World Cup.

All seemed lost for the Swiss when a cou­ple of early goals by Thor­gan Haz­ard looked to have put Bel­gium up and away. But hugely to their credit the Swiss re­fused to lie down and by half­time the home team were 3-2 ahead.

Nor did they lose com­mand of the game af­ter the break. Haris Se­fer­ovic scored a hat-trick, Nico Elvedi atoned for a shock­ing early mis­take which had given away the first Bel­gian goal by scor­ing him­self and the Swiss sailed through as im­pos­ing 5-2 win­ners.

So much for the team that had come so close to win­ning the World Cup.

De­ci­sive...Harry Kane scores Eng­land’s win­ner against Croa­tia

Hat-trick hero... Haris Se­fer­ovic

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