England ease to victory over Wales in qualifier
Early Frank Lampard and Darren Bent goals turned the spotlight off Fabio Capello as England eased past Wales in this afternoon's Euro 2012 qualifier in Cardiff.
England manager Capello had endured a torrid week in the media over his handling of John Terry's reinstatement as captain and defeat at the Millennium Stadium would have seen the pressure increase considerably.
Yet that seemed unlikely from the moment Lampard struck with a seventh-minute penalty and Bent doubled the advantage with a typical close-range finish eight minutes later.
Wales, having been overpowered in the first half, restored pride with a competitive display after the break but Gary Speed could not be spared defeat in his first home international as manager.
The only major downside for England, who move to the top of Group G, was a booking for Wayne Rooney which will keep him out of the next qualifier against Switzerland in June.
England were rarely extended in the first period with the outstanding Ashley Young, playing alongside Rooney behind Bent, at the heart of all their good work.
Scott Parker, winning his first cap for four and a half years, was composed in front of the back four and Jack Wilshere, making his first competitive start, looked a natural fit in midfield.
Terry, although largely untested, did not put a foot wrong as he captained the team for the first time in 17 months.
Despite Wales' hopeless plight at the bottom of the group, the hosts had relished the build-up to the encounter with Speed assembling one of the country's strongest squads for some time.
His plans suffered a setback when the dangerous Gareth Bale was forced to withdraw earlier in the week but home passion was clearly in evidence in the opening stages.
Craig Bellamy was his usual fired-up self and stood his ground when confronted by Rooney after catching the England striker.
Aaron Ramsey, becoming Wales' youngest-ever captain on his return to the side from a broken leg, was also keen to get into the action and a strong early surge offered encouragement.
That optimism was immediately punctured, however, as England went ahead from the spot.
A slip by James Collins allowed Terry to slip in Young and the Wales defender clumsily brought down his Aston Villa team-mate as he tried to recover.
Lampard coolly sent Wayne Hennessey the wrong way and England went on to dominate the first half with ease.
Ashley Cole had a shot blocked by Ashley Williams before the visitors doubled their lead on 15 minutes after more good work by Young.
Glen Johnson sent Young racing clear down the right and his cross was clinically dispatched by Bent six yards out.
Hennessey then had to deal with a dangerous Young cross as England threatened again and Rooney picked out Bent with a superb 60-yard ball only for the striker to head wide.
Ramsey looked full of energy as he tried to haul Wales back into contention but was perhaps trying too hard to impress and was often left frustrated.
Wales did get the ball into the box when Bellamy lofted in a free-kick but Joe Hart punched clear under pressure from Steve Morison.
Rooney was caught in midfield by Andrew Crofts and moments later was booked for a bad challenge on Joe Ledley, an indiscretion that rules him out of the next game.
Young went close with a dipping effort after spotting Hennessey off his line but the ball dropped over the bar.
At the other end Bellamy almost played in Andy King but Cole made a timely interception. Morison also broke into the area after turning Michael Dawson but his cross was cleared.
Wales looked a different side after the break but were almost caught out when a poor clearance by Hennessey allowed Young to cross but Rooney was unable to make contact.
Bellamy sent King clear with a fine through ball but the Leicester midfielder blasted wide.
A chance opened up for English-born Morison but the Millwall striker's control let him down as he looked for his first international goal.
Ramsey then showed neat footwork on the edge of the area but was unable to keep his shot on target.
Lampard shot over for England but the visitors had clearly eased off.
The introduction of David Vaughan and Ched Evans for Wales failed to bring about a breakthrough and England played out time as the game became scrappy.
Stewart Downing, a late replacement for Wilshere, shot narrowly wide after a fine run in the 90th minute.
Latest in Sport
New day (slowly) rising – As Brasileirão gets underway, Brazilian football stumbles, rather than leaps into the future
The average Serie A crowd last year was 13,000 - comparable to Australia’s A-League.
by James Young
24 May 2013 04:31 PM
Monaco is a street circuit where driver ability is more important than anywhere else and if we take ...
by Gareth Purnell
24 May 2013 02:00 AM
Three weeks ago as I drove off the Eurostar, I remember thinking what a very long time it was until ...
by Martin Ayres
23 May 2013 05:29 PM
Why Manchester City were willing to fork out $500m on stake in MLS
Manchester City coach in waiting Manuel Pellegrini: Inside the mind of anti-Mancini
Champions League final: Biggest German invasion since the fifth century as Bayern Munich face Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich: 50 things you need to know about the Champions League final
Champions League Final: Can Jürgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund stop the Bayern Munich machine?
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 3 Exclusive: How MI5 blackmails British Muslims
- 4 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
- 5 Exclusive: Woolwich killings suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.