Can England do it
This is the point when people start believing. England against France were a dour defensive, careful collective. They were paralysed by fear of making mistakes. A fear of gaffes, a fear of errors and misjudgments. A fear of becoming scapegoats in the cauldron that the England team always inhabits. Fear consumed them.
Against Sweden they turned fear into flair. Andy Carroll, Danny Welbeck and substitute Theo Walcott played with an attacking verve that was entirely foreign to the England of the first game.
The game was a rough and ready Premier League affair. Momentum swung back and forth in an instant.
England were 1-0 up at the half thanks to the much heralded head of Andy Carroll. He is the most effective aerial threat since the spitfire. And of Sweden’s last 8 conceded goals seven were headers.
Roy Hodgson’s inclusion of Andy Carroll, and his head, was a masterstroke from the outset.
As was the inclusion in the second half of Theo Walcott for the ineffective James Milner. He epitomised the term super sub. England looked bereft of ideas. they were undeservedly 2-1 down to a functional Swedish outfit. Walcott tore apart the back four at will. incisive, piercing runs opened up opportunities for himself and his team mates.
He scored in the 64th minute for 2-2 and parity. Then set up Welbeck for a gorgeous finish in the 78th. It was the decisive goal. 3-2 England and a vital win that has them all but in the knock out stages of the tournament.
Next up Ukraine. They were buoyed by their home support against Sweden in their opening game. But not even the cheering throngs of the Ukrainian home support could lift them to anything but a 2-0 defeat to France in their second game. The two big boys of Group D, England and France, are now firmly in charge.
It is one game, and expectations can vary wildly from one game to the next but, whisper it, it may be time to believe.
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