Good Friday: what we learned from a night in Bulgaria that strengthened grip on Group G

1. Cahill is ready to play international football

If half an hour as a substitute in the home game against Bulgaria, plus a friendly against Ghana, were inconclusive, Bolton centre-half Gary Cahill's performance on Friday confirmed he is more than merely comfortable at this level. Justifying his selection ahead of Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott, he fitted in seamlessly alongside John Terry, adding the bonus of a coolly taken goal and blotting out the one Bulgarian striker Tsvetan Genkov.

2. Lampard may not start many more games

With 87 appearances and 22 goals in the 12 years since his international debut, Frank Lampard has been an invaluable member of the England squad but his chances of achieving 100 caps suddenly look diminished. Although Gareth Barry and Scott Parker are only a couple of years younger, there are Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere to consider too. Substitute appearances offer his best chance now.

3. Rooney is England's most flexible friend

Devastating in the Bulgarians' visit to Wembley, when he made all four goals from a deeper position behind Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney was used further forward this time, from where he scored two goals and could easily have emulated Defoe's hat-trick of last September. Yet even in this role he worked back relentlessly, looking for the ball and chasing everything right until the very last minute to regain the affections of England supporters lost in South Africa.

4. Bulgaria are not very good

With Dimitar Berbatov in the side, the Bulgarians were capable of an occasionally impressive performance, such as scoring six goals before half-time in a World Cup qualifier against Georgia (with a Berbatov hat-trick). Without him – the Manchester United striker retired from the international scene in May last year – they have nothing in attack, as a total of two goals in six Group G matches confirms. Lothar Matthaus, England's old nemesis as Germany skipper, may have replaced Stanimir Stoilov as coach after the Wembley defeat, but to no effect thus far.

5. Racism is alive and sick

The growing number of black players attached to clubs in the old Communist block does not seem to be having the desired effect of breaking down old prejudices. England supporters situated next to the worst offenders said the racist abuse was worse than for some time and was even directed at Bulgaria's one black player – although it has to be said that some English chanting about the hosts was equally offensive.

6. Welsh helped England but now threaten them

It was a huge bonus for Fabio Capello to be told during his after-match media briefing that Wales had held on to inflict a first defeat of the tournament on England's only serious group rivals, Montenegro. That result will lift Gary Speed's team ahead of the trip to Wembley, where they often made life difficult in the past. The disappointment for them is the loss of the suspended Craig Bellamy and David Vaughan.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk