Sunday, 3 June 2012

International Friendly - England vs Belgium: LIVE Commentary

Hello and welcome to my LIVE coverage of England's last warm-up match before the Euro 2012 tournament against Belgium at Wembley Stadium.

Unfortunately for Belgium, they failed to qualify but will give England a tough test this evening with the likes of Eden Hazard, rock solid Vincent Kompany and Moussa Dembele. 

England narrowly beat Norway 1-0 last week thanks to Ashley Young's 8th minute strike. Can they get the win they need today against a tough Belgium side to give them morale ahead of the match against France on June the 11th?

England vs Belgium - LIVE Commentary:

Team Line-ups this evening:

England vs Belgium:

England: Hart, Johnson, Cahill, Terry, Cole, Milner, Parker, Gerrard, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Young, Welbeck. 

Subs: Green, Jones, Baines, Lescott, Jagielka, Henderson, Downing, Defoe, Rooney, Carroll, Walcott, Butland.

The first team (almost) start with only Frank Lampard (injury), Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott not starting.

FACT: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the youngest player in the starting line-up for England since Micah Richards in 2006.

4-3-2-1 formation possibly, with James Milner, Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard infront of the midfield but behind Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ashley Young who will support Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck.

Belgium: Mignolet, Guillaume Gillet, Kompany, Vermaelen, Vertonghen, Hazard, Fellaini, Witsel, Mertens, Mirallas, Dembele.
Subs: Renard, Simons, De Camargo, Pocognoli, Chadli, Benteke, Vossen, Lukaku, Odoi, Nainggolan, De Ceulaer, Defour.

BREAKING NEWS: Vincent Kompany has been ruled out of the match today, due to a calf strain suffered during midweek. 
He has not been able to shake it off.
He will be replaced by Simons.

A lot of notable names in Belguim's squad here. I wish they were in the Euros.

Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, New Chelsea winger Eden Hazard, Everton midfielder Marouane Fellani, Benfica midfielder Axel Witsel, PSV winger Dries Mertens, Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen, Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen and Fulham midfielder Moussa Dembele all start. 

Formation 4-3-3 here today for Belgium.

Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku is on the bench along with Defour.

Other International friendly matches being played today include:

Holland vs Northern Ireland 
Denmark vs Australia
Norway vs Croatia
Portugal vs Turkey

Goal-line technology WILL be tested tonight during this match.
Black netting, sensors and cameras above each goal.

Hawk-eye technology: If it successful today, The FA will have a meeting in July to decide whether to continue.
The teams are coming out of the tunnel now. 

17:12: National anthems now, with Belguim starting (but no-one in the team knows the words!)

England now, with 'God Save the Queen' on the first day of the official Diamond Jubilee.


The referee blows the whistle to kick start this friendly!

0: Belgium start us off here at Wembley.

3: Belgium dominating possession so far, with some good passing.
Dembele and Hazard gelling together to give the England defence some trouble.

6: England free-kick after midfielder Steven Gerrard is bodychecked by Moussa Dembele.

7: Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sprints past Gillet but gets tackled just as he is getting towards the wing. Close. 

Young talent: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looks promising for England today against Belgium and is a threat.

He is a danger and an asset for England.

8: Another foul by Dembele on Gerrard before Milner's through ball towards Chamberlain is not taken as he slips when taking a shot from 20 yards out. 

10: England have seemed to get into this match now, with some good passes and possession is more balanced.

The problem is that they always start matches off slowly and sluggishly. This could cost them in the Euros. 

11: Chamberlain is fouled by Benfica midfielder Axel Witsel after driving in-between him and Dembele. Free-kick given England's way.

13: An over-the-top ball by Ashley Cole finds Danny Welbeck who tracks back to find Chamberlain who shoots from 25 yards out with the side of his foot.... OVER THE BAR!!! 
If he had a touch to control the ball, it could have been a goal and it just went over...

16: Oh dear.

Chelsea centre-back Gary Cahill has gone down on the pitch after being pushed by Dries Mertens into goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Nasty collison and Mertens is booked for the push.
Lucky not to get a red card though. 

Nasty work: Mertens pushed Cahill into his own goalkeeper to try and win the ball from him as he was being blocked.

Down and out: Defender Gary Cahill is injured after being pushed into Joe Hart and damaging his jaw.

17: England doctor has come onto the pitch, and Cahill is bleeding from his jaw.
Possibly a fracture and this is not good for England's hopes for the Euros.
A lot of injuries and suspensions already and they do not need this.

Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott is warming up, and getting ready to come on.

19: Gary Cahill is not happy as he limps off, while Lescott replaces him.

England SUB:

Joleon Lescott ON
Gary Cahill OFF (injury)
Steven Gerrard and Marouane Fellani get into a tussle with Fellani worse off as he has a bloody knee.
Nothing serious though, and the game goes on.

Benfica midfielder Axel Witsel takes a shot from 20 yards out which swerves just over the bar and past Joe Hart. Close to 1-0. 

25: Belgium looking dangerous here after their early chance.
They win a free-kick after a late challenge by Glen Johnson on Dries Mertens just outside the box.
The free-kick is cleared away for a corner, which is cleared away by Johnson.

30: Midfielder Scott Parker is booked for a late challenge on Jan Vertoghen. He followed through with both feet and it was dangerous so a yellow card seems fair.

35: Ashley Young finds Danny Welbeck with a through ball past Vertoghen into the box before chipping the goakeeper from 12 yards out.... GOAL!!!!!!!!!
1-0 to England, with 10 minutes of the first half to go. Great goal by Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck with a classy finish.

Nice one: Welbeck chips Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to give England the lead after 35 minutes at Wembley.
1st senior goal for England: Welbeck celebrates with the creator and Manchester United team-mate Ashley Young.
The referee blows the whistle to start the second half in this match.
England lead thanks to a deadly striking partnership from Manchester United team-mates Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck.

47: Chamberlain runs down the wing after a good through ball by Cole before crossing the ball towards the six yard box, but defender Vertoghen heads away for a corner.

48: Corner comes to nothing as Everton midfielder Marouane Fellani tackles Chelsea defender John Terry and Belgium clear the danger.

49: Cameras show England manager Roy Hodgson, and he looks worried.
Who can blame him as he is just days away from a major tournament and half of the first-team are either injured or suspended.

50: Defender Jan Vertoghen finds himself in space to take a shot from 25 yards out but it goes wide for a goal kick. Never really troubling goalkeeper Joe Hart whose goal-kick is long.

52: Wayne Rooney is walking off the bench and onto the touchline. Substitution for England here.

England SUB:

Wayne Rooney ON
Danny Welbeck OFF

Warm round of applause for the Manchester United forward Welbeck who has played well today and scored a beautiful chip.
Team-mate Rooney takes his place.

55: Epic race between Vermaelen and Milner to win the ball from just outside the centre circle.
Vermaelen is worse off after Milner's studs go into his ribs.

57: The physio are giving the Arsenal defender treatment off the pitch.

58: Chamberlain goes on a bursting run of pace before getting elbowed in the face by Dembele. Drop ball before being kicked towards Mignolet for a goal-kick.

59: Belgium SUB:

Nacer Chadli ON
Kevin Mirallas OFF 

60: Belgium looking dangerous again, with Hazard taking a curling shot from outside the 18-yard box but Joe Hart saved it.

61: Nice pass and move by Eden Hzard and Marouane Fellani before his shot at the near post is caught by Hart. 
Too weak to trouble Hart.
If only they started the match like this...

64: Nice quick passing by Belgium but Mertens' cross into the box is caught by Hart.

England SUB:

Jermain Defoe ON
Theo Walcott ON
Ashley Young OFF
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain OFF

Chamberlain and Young are two of England's hot prospects for this competition and both have played well today.
Theo Walcott and Defoe both have to make good impressions if they are to start against France on Monday the 11th.


England SUB:

Phil Jagielka ON
John Terry OFF

Terry walks straight down the tunnel, and the word is that he is nursing a slight knock to his ankle or hamstring.
Everton defender Phil Jagielka replaces him in the centre of defence.


Belgium SUB:
Romelu Lukaku ON
Dries Mertens OFF

Mertens has played well today, and apart from the incident with Cahill and Hart, he has been electric in attack for Belgium and been unlucky not to provide at least one goal.

74: Wayne Rooney finds Jermain Defoe with a nice through ball past the defenders but his shot inside the 18-yard box is deflected and cleared away from a throw-in. Unlucky.

75: Eden Hazard finds his future team-mate and striker Romelu Lukaku inside the box who shoots towards goal... but his Chelsea team-mate Ashley Cole blocks the shot.

76: Defender Joleon Lescott is recieving treatment from the physio on the touchilne from a head cut.

77: Defender Gillet takes a stinging drive from 25 yards out and a pass by Dembele towards goal.. HITS THE POST!! and it goes out of play. Close to an equaliser for Belgium.

78: Lescott comes back onto the pitch, while Lukau clashews with Hart in a fight for the ball. Free-kick to England.

80: Fellani has a shot blocked by Ashley Cole before Axel Witsel's shot goes over the bar.

81: Nice run by Theo Walcott who sidesteps past two defenders before finding Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe in space who takes a shot from 16 yards out towards goal.... HITS THE POST!
Unlucky or what?! Defoe had the keeper beat but not the post.

82: Winger Eden Hazard goes on a counter attacking run for Belgium but his shot is wide of the frame of the goal.

England SUB:
Jordan Henderson ON
Steven Gerrard OFF

One Liverpool player off, another on with Gerrard being smartly rested towards the late stages of the game.
Gerrard gives the captain's armband to Wayne Rooney.

86: Belgium continue to press England with a dangerous in-swinging corner but defender Jan Vertoghen's header goes over the bar.

88: England awareded a free-kick deep inside the Belgium half after Dembele bodychecked Glen Johnson.

90: Striker Jermain Defoe takes a dangerous shot from inside the box, but it goes into the side netting.

The fourth official signals 4 minutes of stoppage time to be added on here at Wembley. 

The referee blows the whistle to end this match at Wembley!
England win 1-0 again with Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck scoring the only goal of the match.
There will be shouts from Belgium and the neutral football fans, stating that if defender Vincent Kompany was playing, then England would NOT have won.
They pressed and pressed but could not find a way past Joe Hart.
There are more injury worries for England, with defender Gary Cahill set to have an x-ray tomorrow to reveal his Euro 2012 fate after a suspected fractured jaw.

My England Man Of The Match goes to:

Ashley Young

He played well throughout the match, and gave the Belgium defence trouble.
He linked up well with team-mate Danny Welbeck and assisted his lovely chip past Mignolet.

Surely, he has done enough to start against France?!

Man Of The Match goes to:

Moussa Dembele

He controlled the midfield for Belgium in this match, provided a threat to England and linked up with Mertens and Hazard on the wings.
Also helped the defence when needed and was a rock.

He represented his club Fulham well, and I would not be surprised if some European clubs declare their interest in him just from this performance. 

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