Sunday, December 5, 2021

England Toil in Warm-up Game Against Nigeria

Playing their last game before the finalization of the 23-man finals squad, England beat Nigeria 2-1 at Wembley. Two first-half goals were enough, but Nigeria made England toil for much of the second half as they lost cohesion.

Gary Cahill got the home team off to the perfect start rising to head in a 7th minute corner. England were much the better team for most of the first-half, as time and again their movement was too much to handle for Nigeria. Sterling in particular caused issues for the Nigerian defense with good pace, and making well-timed runs.

Sterling Frustrates

Sterling needs to improve his end product for England

However, as is too often the case with Sterling his end product was appalling. Despite getting promising positions in the box three times he failed to find the target or a team-mate. It is a frustrating fact for England that Sterling is one of the keys to their success and unless his end product improves it will be another frustrating World Cup.

Kane made it 2-0 for England with a hard-struck shot from outside the penalty area. Although straight at the goalkeeper, Uzoho kindly dived out of the way for England to take a 2-0 lead in at half-time.

England Stumble In The Second Half

Nigeria opened up a bit more in the second half and were rewarded with some awful defending from England. Playing a back three of Cahill, Stones, and Walker they were picked apart, and Alex Iwobi struck to send the Nigerian fans into raptures.

Sterling dovetailed well with Kane, with the latter dropping deep at one point to allow Sterling to occupy the number 9 position. Sterling blazed over the bar on that occasion from just outside the box. The second-half was worse for Sterling, his only real action being a dive to try and win a penalty that resulted in a yellow card. It was the correct decision from the referee who had a largely uneventful game to manage.

It’s a game that offers as many questions and answers and certainly won’t make Three Lions fans feel like they could win the World Cup. England’s final warm-up game with be against Costa Rica at Wembley on Thursday.

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Ray Burton
Ray writes mostly in-depth analytical pieces covering a range of sports from a more statistical perspective drawing his inspiration from the fanalytics movement. Ray writes on the NFL, Premier League, MLB, NHL, NBA, and NRL.

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