England report v Lithuania (a)
LFF Stadium, Vilnius
The Euro 2016 qualification campaign did indeed, as expected, end with another England win to see the Three Lions complete a 'perfect 10' from group E in Vilnius at the LFF Stadium.
We'll not be getting 'carried away' but only a small number of countries have achieved a perfect record in qualification, those that have - like England's 10/10 - only 6 nations in fact, have usually gone on to do well in the finals themselves, most winning the Euros, but we'll see!
You would have to say this was very much an 'experimental' England side with it seeing no fewer than 8 changes to the one that beat Estonia on Friday, in fairness some again enforced with this the most inexperienced side put out in some 20-odd-years apparently with them having 138 caps between them, less -I think - than one of the Lithuania players alone...
It was a comfortable 3-0 England win, you couldn't really say it wasn't 'convincing' as it wasn't ever really challenging enough as a contest was it?
The opening goal came from Barkley, again given an influential role, with his effort deflected in off the post. Kane seemed to get the second but having it the post, the same one, it then came back and ended up going in off Lithuania goalie Arlauskis.
Oxlade-Chamberlain smashed the third into the roof of the net in the second half to round off proceedings.
Once more it was a positive start from England with some nice passing football seen. Chances started to come, Kane having the first of them as he forced Arlauskis into his first save early on with the same happening shortly after.
A hat-trick of Kane, within the opening 25-minutes, chances saw the Spurs striker once again denied by Arlauskis with Vardy caught on his heels and not following up quick enough, which would have left a simple tap in.
The breakthrough, which seemed inevitable, came before half hour.
Quick feet shown by Barkley saw the Everton man work an opening and he didn't need a second invite. Yes this was deflected off the defender and in via the post but if 'you don't buy a ticket you'll not win the raffle' will you!
Butland, given a chance in goal to 'stake a claim' with Hart returning to his club, was forced into one good save in the first half with the Stoke goalie reacting smartly to turn this away to safety.
A second goal came following a nice one-two between Kane and Lallana, with the latter allowing Kane to drill and effort low and hard at the near post, which looked to be the goalie, who wouldn't have been happy but it turned out the Watford man was a little unfortunate as Kane's strike cannoned off the post before going in off him so it wasn't a 4th goal in 5 caps for Kane this was an Arlauskis own goal!
So, 2-0 England at the beak.
Kane should have had the 4th goal though early in the second half, in fairness Arlauskis did make a good saved but the follow up, cleared away by defender, should have been buried and once again 'the Kane from last season' would have done this, probably with the first effort you sense?
From the corner Arlauskis was again at it making another very good save from a powerful Barkley header.
A 33rd player used by Hodgson in qualification came on with an hour played as Ings, who wasn't fit enough to feature on Friday, was brought on for his England debut. He would be followed later on by Alli, who got a roughly half of the 2nd half on this occasion.
The third, and what proved to be final, goal came when Oxlade-Chamberlain was put in by Walker, only called into the squad as a replacement, with the Arsenal man smashing it into the roof of the net on 62-minutes.
Ings almost marked his debut with a goal with a good strike, low from outside of the box, well saved once more but Lithuania goalie Arlauskis.
The last meaningful action of the game saw Butland forced into a save, albeit it a relatively comfy once, from a three-times taken freekick, which had seen both Shelvey and Vardy booked by the ref for encroachment.
Not another classic but what was really going to be learned about England from this game, in a virtual dead rubber, even though a win was wanted to make it 10/10! With respect to Lithuania, and most in this group, bigger challenges are to come.
You could argue that a player or two could, or should, have 'stepped up' a little more to put themselves in the shop window? That being said Barkley is doing this!
Some of the upcoming friendlies lined up could tell us more but it'll not really be until next summer that we really know 'what' England are all about and how far Hodgson's Three Lions really have come since the world cup...
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