England cruised to victory in Sofia tonight, scoring three times in the first forty-five minutes and preventing any fight back from Bulgaria in a more than comfortable away win.
After ten minutes with a lot of passing but a not similar amount of goal mouth action; the next ten minutes more than made up for it. On thirteen minutes following an unsuccessful corner, Gareth Barry slid a ball through the Bulgaria defence which made its way to Gary Cahill, who gathered the composure of a centre forward and passed the ball neatly into the net to put his side 1-0 up with his first England goal.
Although leading, not much effort was required from the England team who passed the ball around the Bulgarians with ease, and managed to double their advantage when the clock hit twenty minutes. Stewart Downing’s corner found the head of Wayne Rooney, who, effortlessly it seemed, powered the ball into the back of the net for his twenty-seventh goal for his country.
In cruise control, England looked extremely comfortable on the ball with Barry and Spurs’ deadline day signing Scott Parker expertly controlling the England midfield. Bulgaria were not to be ignored though, and England were worried slightly when a cross to the far post was misjudged by Chris Smalling, but the Manchester United defenders blushes were spared when the chance came to nothing.
The tie was all but over just before half time, in a well created move which saw Rooney double his goal tally for the night. Ashley Young’s defence splitting ball found United team mate, who had the easiest tap in of his life. Worryingly for the Bulgarian defence no one seemed to notice the England talisman stroll into the box, and so England went in at the break three goals to the good; more than pleasing Fabio Capello and the travelling England support.
Bulgaria woke up after the interval with Joe Hart having to make his first save of the game after a Martin Petrov corner was met by an oncoming attacker, and England’s number one pulled off a quick reaction save to keep a clean sheet for his team – a mark of a good goalkeeper that, even after having nothing of note to do all game, was switched on to prevent the danger.
Liverpool winger Downing almost put the tie way beyond reach soon after when Theo Walcott put a looping cross into the box which was met by Downing who, running, headed across goal but was denied by the post just as he was wheeling away to celebrate.
Although Bulgaria enjoyed a lot of the second half possession, Hart wasn’t troubled in the England goal, in fact his only worry was the flares being set off behind him, such was the quiet night Manchester City’s keeper had.
The introduction of first James Milner and then Frank Lampard allowed England to maintain their lead and see out the game. A comfortable win for England with faultless performances from all, and a date with Wales at Wembley on Tuesday to hopefully all but secure qualification.