That’s all from me. If you still want more, you can find Daniel Taylor’s match report here:
It’s been an absolute thrill. Bye!
Roy Hodgson has had a post-match chat:
Fantastic for Harry. We’re so delighted for him. It is a bit of a fairy tale, but it’s nice when fairy tales come true, and it’s come true for Harry. He’s crowned his England debut with a well-taken goal. Couldn’t be better really. It’s a very satisfying evening for us.
Danny Welbeck’s picked up an injury. It could be a double blow for us, because Raheem Sterling’s been waiting for an injection in his toe and I agreed with him and Brendan Rodgers that he’d play tonights game and would then have the injection, so if we’re unlucky we could lose both him and Welbeck. They’re an important part of the system we’re trying to play, but we’ve got plenty of players and it’ll be an opportunity for someone else.
Timing update: the latest I’ve heard is that there were 78 seconds between Harry Kane coming on and Harry Kane scoring.
A bad night for away teams in Group E, where the other results are Slovenia 6-0 San Marino, and Switzerland 3-0 Estonia.
Harry Kane speaks to ITV:
It’s like a dream. To see it come true is amazing. I’m delighted, delighted for the lads. It’s my best moment by far. To represent your country at senior level’s the top. Hopefully the first of many.
And so does Wayne Rooney:
I was a bit disappointed to hit the post, the first one, I got a shove which put me off balance, but I’m happy. I scored, we won the game, and it’s another three points in this qualifying campaign. Since the World Cup we’ve been fantastic, very energetic, lots of pace. I think lots of teams around Europe are looking at this team, and they’re going to be frightened.
Another incredible night in the increasingly obviously-fictional career of Harry Kane. The thing I like about Harry Kane, there’s calm in his eye.
Final score: England 4-0 Lithuania
It’s all over! England are better than Lithuania!
90+3 mins: So it’s a Tottenham player thing, massively fast international debut goals?
90+2 mins: We’re in the middle of three minutes of stoppage time, incidentally. “According to Peter Drury on the commentary here in the US the fastest goal scored by a debutante was Bill Nicholson’s 19 seconds on his one and only appearance in 1950 something,” says Michael Glosgower.
90+1 mins: Sterling wins a free-kick on the right wing, Kazlauskas kicks the ball away and he thus wins a yellow card with his first touch after coming off the bench. He’s basically tonight’s anti-Kane.
90 mins: Lithuania, apropos nothing, donate England a corner, but the home side can’t profit.
89 mins: Another change for Lithuania, Donatas Kazlauskas coming on. I’m not really sure who went off. Sorry.
87 mins: Sterling tries to release Walcott but Kane intercepts the ball, and when he tries to release Walcott the Arsenal man is offside.
86 mins: England have so much space, just outside Lithuania’s penalty area, that they can’t help passing the ball around it interminably, and never actually get into the penalty area.
You’ve really captured the essence of him there, I think.
85 mins: Another good England move ends with Baines flicking to Delph, on the edge of the area, but the Villa man totally mishits his shot, which bobbles wide.
83 mins: He’s now gone off, and Vaidas Slavickas has replaced him.
82 mins: Andriuškevičius is still being treated. Both players misjudged the challenge, but Sterling basically ran at full speed into the lad’s knee, and it did look a bit hurty.
80 mins: Sterling skips across the edge of the penalty area, but loses control of the ball and runs into Andriuškevičius, who seems badly hurt. The England player is booked.
79 mins: “So, was that the fastest ever debut international goal?” wonders Mark Goodge. Anyone? Seems it was 18 seconds, rather than 80.
77 mins: Another England change, Walcott coming on for Welbeck. “I’m struggling to stay interested in the footie,” complains Evan Jeffries. But how can this be? England are amazing! “but am growing increasingly intrigued by the advice re not trying to make cheese on toast on its side. Is everyone except for me making it vertically, then? How? Please let me know so I take something worthwhile away from this evening’s entertainment. And keep up the good work, obviously.” I think the suggestion is that you do make it on its side, but under a grill, rather than in a toaster.
76 mins: Great news this for Nathaniel Clyne’s England. Well done Nathaniel!
75 mins: Sterling skips about the penalty area again, and this time he’d have scored himself but for a late block. And then there’s a corner, from which the ball drops for Welbeck, whose shot is blocked by Matulevičius as it heads to the net.
GOAL! England 4-0 Lithuania (Kane, 73 mins)
His second touch is a goal! Ludicrous! Sterling twists in the area and runs down the left before crossing to the far post, where Kane heads low and Arlauskis, rushing across his goalline, just fails to keep it out. It’s taken Kane 80 seconds.
72 mins: Hairstyle latest! In the first half Arturas Zulpa’s hair was flying all over the place:
So now he’s wearing a weird-looking headband thing.
And that’s your latest update on the key developments from Wembley.
71 mins: A double change for England. Barkley replaces Henderson, and Kane comes on for Rooney. Gary Cahill assumes England’s captaincy.
68 mins: England pass the ball about, in the middle of Lithuania’s half, with 10 yellow-shirted players ahead of them. It’s damage-limitation now for the visitors.
66 mins: Lithuania take off Mikuckis, and bring on Stankevičius.
65 mins: Harry Kane is getting ready to come on! And Lithuania have a shot, from Matulevičius! It goes miles over the bar.
62 mins: Lithuania really have a shockingly bad football team. Sorry Lithuania.
60 mins: Townsend, incidentally, on that Welbeck dive: “He had to take evasive action.” Really the most egregious nonsense.
59 mins: Ooooh! So nearly another. Welbeck fizzes the ball in from the right, and with Rooney and Sterling queuing up for it, Žaliukas gets a touch at the near post and diverts it away from them. It should have been a corner, but isn’t.
GOAL! England 3-0 Lithuania (Sterling, 58 mins)
The goal-kick is sent down the right, Rooney crosses low, and Sterling runs beyond the defence to tap in, off the inside of the post.
58 mins: Welbeck runs into the area, Kijanskas comes in to challenge and Welbeck dives over him. The referee should book him, but doesn’t.
57 mins: Sterling cuts in from the left and shoot right-footed at the far post, but hits a defender.
56 mins: Welbeck has the ball on the right again, and this time he sends it low across goal, but none of his teammates has anticipated it and it’s cleared.
55 mins: England play lots of little passes in a tight space on the right wing, soundtracked by the whistles of Lithuania’s fans, and then run the ball out of play, and concede a throw-in.
54 mins: Welbeck goes down the right, and then shoots at the near post from an improbable angle, and the goalkeeper saves.
52 mins: Lithuania win a free-kick in England’s half, and bring everybody forward. The ball flies over the lot of them and out of play. “Where at the start of the second half are all those big-wigs who occupy the prime seats in the red section at the middle of the pitch?” wonders Peter Young, as a tidy England move peters out at the last. “Sticking behind to get a second gin and tonic at the bar?” It is a tragedy of the new Wembley that the seats you most often see on television, the ones everyone would really like to sit in, are the ones most often empty because they’re either a) too expensive to sell, or b) their owners are enjoying some hospitality elsewhere.
49 mins: What a save! Rooney crosses from the right, Delph volleys with his left foot, and it’s heading in until Arlauskis flings out a left hand to push the ball to safety!
47 mins: Sterling executes a natty stepover and heads off down the right wing. The ball does not come with him, a defender having totally ignored his showboating and stolen it away.
46 mins: England start half two. No half-time changes.
The players are back out and preparing to do more footballing.
Important advice. Not strictly relevant, but important.
“The British commentator on the telecast in the USA pronounced Welbeck’s effort an own goal,” notes Peter Young. “Plainly the ball was directed at the net and thus the Lithuanian defender’s deflection did not make it an own goal.” Indeed. It was deflection-assisted, but nevertheless Welbeck’s goal.
It looks like Lithuania’s greatest all-round entertainer is reading the MBM!
Half time: England 2-0 Lithuania
Despite the two goals, the referee decides that we don’t deserve any stoppage time, and that’s the interval.
GOAL! England 2-0 Lithuania (Welbeck, 45 mins)
England double their lead in the final minute of the half. Again they find ludicrous space with a short corner. The cross is fired in and Welbeck deflects it goalwards. It hits Kijanskas in the thigh, and bounces into the net!
43 mins: Sterling gets into space on the right and pulls back to Welbeck, who pops the ball past the defender rushing in to challenge him and dives over his leg. The referee is rightly unimpressed.
41 mins: Yellow card! Žaliukas sticks out an arm to block Delph’s pass, and even holding his face in mock pain doesn’t dissuade the referee from booking him. From the free-kick, Welbeck races to the edge of the area and curls a shot over the bar.
39 mins: There’s a massive, massive empty half of the goal, if someone can just get the ball over the wall and down again, but instead Rooney sidefoots the other side of the wall, and straight into the arms of Arlauskis.
37 mins: This is simultaneously entertaining and frustrating: England are winning, and playing coherent football, and lordy knows there have been times – long, long times – when I’d have been happy enough with just that. But they’re not scoring a goal every three or four minutes, and really they should be. Anyway, they’ve got a dangerous free-kick now, Welbeck have been taken out while playing a one-two with Rooney.
34 mins: “Watching and listening from home, scarf-waving is definitely preferable to all that whistling,” writes Karl Ruben Weseth, complaining about the Lithuania fans’ reaction to England possession. “Where does whistling/booing/jeering at the opposition team for just playing fall on the Sepp Blatter Honorary Scale of Things That Are Wrong About Football?” Pretty low: Blatter is famously deaf to inconvenient negativity, so wouldn’t hear it in the first place.
32 mins: Good attack from Lithuania! The away side attack in numbers, and Andriuskevicius is in miles of space on the left! He gets the ball and crosses into a dangerous area, where a striker sticks out a leg but deflects the ball behind.
32 mins: Good pressure from England ends with Henderson’s cross from the right, which flicks off a defender’s head and flies to Baines, who, well, I’m not sure what it was, but it wasn’t good. Goal kick.
30 mins: Lithuania’s fans seem to be making all the noise at Wembley, at least when England’s house band isn’t parping. “People will mock the quality of the opposition,” writes Paul Griffin, “but, as Jeremy Clarkson would say, you can only beat what’s in front of you.”
27 mins: Sterling takes Freidgeimas on for pace on the left wing, a hilariously one-sided contest. His cross isn’t up to much, mind.
26 mins: England attack, lose the ball, win the ball, attack, lose the ball, win the ball, etc and so forth. Lithuania’s ball-retention is comically poor, so far. England’s last attack ended with a questionable offside decision against Welbeck.
24 mins: A bit of edge-of-area England passing pinball ends with Welbeck nudging the ball back to Henderson. Next time, he should nudge the ball back onto his right foot. Goal kick.
23 mins: Joe Hart sprints from his line to collect a right-wing cross into an undermanned penalty area ahead of an attacker, who is anyway sent sprawling by Clyne’s hearty nudge.
“With Rooney scoring and approaching Charlton’s record cue lots of abuse about him, that he’s undermined by having scored against the likes of San Marino and Andorra, poor record in World Cup finals, and so on,” predicts David Wall. “Setting aside the fact that he has an excellent record at European Championships, and that a large proportion of his goals have come in qualifiers and not merely friendlies, it’s not as though Sir Bobby only found the net against heavyweight opposition. That is, unless you count Peru, the Scotland side thumped 9-3, Northern Ireland sides frequently conceding four goals, and so on as top class. Most goalscorers have their fair share against weak opposition, it’s just that the identity of the minnows that changes between eras.” Rooney’s had a few extended international ruts, but his record overall can hardly be quibbled with.
20 mins: Jones holds off Matulevicius and is rightly penalised. On ITV, Andy Townsend idiotically criticises the Lithuanian for was play-acting. The free-kick is headed clear.
Rooney hits the bar!
18 mins: The game is enduring a little bit of a lull, but then Sterling does some midfield trickery, benefits from a lucky ricochet off a Lithuanian and passes to Welbeck, who runs to the byline on the right and crosses to Rooney, beyond the far. He tries to loop a header over the goalkeeper and a couple of defenders, but instead of plopping in at the far post it hits the crossbar and bounces back into play!
16 mins: The corner is overhit, but some enterprising chap stretching-bicycle-kicks it back into the mixer, where it hits a defender and is cleared, amid half-hearted handball appeals.
15 mins: Lithuania attack! And win a corner!
14 mins: In other-football news, Montenegro v Russia has been suspended after Igor Akinfeev got knocked out by a flare thrown from the crowd in the first minute.
14 mins: Statistical update:
12 mins: Welbeck races down the left and, on the edge of the area, Freidgeimas sticks out a leg and over he goes. It was outside the area and, anyway, Freidgeimas’s stuck-out leg got the ball.
10 mins: England win a corner, and take it short to Sterling, who is entirely on his own on the edge of the area. Very snoozy defending.
9 mins: Clearly that’s excellent news for England, whose traditional overlong period of toil against an unexceptional but overmanned defence has been joyously avoided. Sorry, Nathaniel Clyne’s England.
GOAL! England 1-0 Lithuania (Rooney, 7 mins)
England take the lead in short order! More comedy defending, Welbeck nutmegging Lithuania’s captain Kijanskas and bursting into the area. His shot across goal is saved by the keeper but the ball loops onto Rooney’s head, and he nods it in!
Rooney hits the post!
4 mins: Sterling pops the ball over the top of the defence, Rooney spins and he’s clear! The goalkeeper stands in the middle of the goal and basically asks to be beaten, either side, if you don’t mind Mr Rooney. Rooney goes near-side, but hits the post, and the ball rolls along the goalline and away to safety!
3 mins: Karolis Chvedukas goes in a little late on Baines, and we have our first free-kick. It’s floated into the area, and headed clear.
1 min: They’re off! Lithuania do the honours as the match gets under way.
Both anthems have now been completed, and there’s nothing between us and kick-off except, well, some time. Not much of it.
What we’ve learned so far: Lithuanians absolutely love holding scarves above their heads. Superlative scarf-lifting action from the fans there.
The players are on the pitch, and currently enjoying Lithuania’s national anthem.
“Has Mr Roy watched a single United match over the last few weeks?” wonders Daniel Schulwolf. “While Phil Jones has been busy testing his own keeper with ludicrous back-passes and recklessly crashing into anything resembling an opponent, Chris Smalling has put in a series of – dare I say it – composed and authoritative performances. His distribution has been excellent, including a few – dare I say it – Beckenbaueresque crossfield balls along with the usual short passes to the likes of Carrick et al.” I think Jones and Smalling are totally interchangeable in the minds of 90% of the population, and it’s no surprise to me that Hodgson’s among them.
Roy Hodgson has spoken to ITV:
Obviously I said earlier, Harry’s here to play. His time will certainly come. At the moment we’ve got a group of players in place who’ve done very well for us, and there was no reason for me to change that at this moment in time.
In terms of the way we play, Michael’s the ideal replacement for Jack Wilshere. We hope he’ll keep our game going as we want to keep it going. We expect a tough challenge. All teams that come here, it’s a great inspiration for them to play at Wembley. They’ll be well organised, they’ll be defensive, and it’ll be up to us to break them down.
Pessimist alert: “Isn’t the more important question: how you’re going to make this match sound exciting? Its going to be so tedious.” Nonsense. It’s going to be fabulous. Or, at the very least, there’s a chance that it might be.
Whenever I contemplate potentially unexciting European Championship qualifiers against teams from Eastern Europe, particularly if they turn out to indeed be disappointing, I think about Peter Beardsley’s near-poster against Poland in 1990, and everything’s OK.
“Thje top Lithuanian sport related song is obviously Sportas by top Lithuanian band Skamp,” writes Robin Hazlehurst. According to their YouTube profile, Skamp are “a perfect example of the quality music that is storming out of the small EU countries”. Anyway, back to Robin: “They are a Lithuanian/Irish/Malian band and thus very appropriate for internationals night too.”
“What sort of life must one lead to be responsible for so many (ok, two, so far) anthem-quality compositions?” asks Daniel Stauss of Marijonas Mikutavičius. “Can you even begin to picture the glamour, the joie de vivre, the straight-up jam his day-to-day must be? I can’t, at all … I’m in a cubicle at work eating reheated leftovers out of a plastic yogurt tub. Write an official song for that, Mr. Mikutavičius.” According to Wikipedia, he’s “a Lithuanian singer, musician and songwriter, a television journalist, a comedian and a talk show host”. The man does everything. He’s a one-man television station – he could do the news, the hilarious panel shows, the music, the lot. And quite possibly does, I don’t know.
So what’s an acceptable result for England here? Victory of course is expected; I think, without wishing to underestimate the Lithuanians, they need to be winning at half-time and at full-time, with at least a goal in each half, to emerge in credit.
… and by the same guy who did my two songs below. What a man.
The teams! Both of them this time!
And so the teams in full:
England: Hart, Clyne, Cahill, Jones, Baines, Henderson, Carrick, Delph, Sterling, Welbeck, Rooney. Subs: Butland, Smalling, Walcott, Jagielka, Milner, Townsend, Kane, Mason, Barkley, Gibbs, Walker, Green.
Lithuania: Arlauskis, Freidgeimas, Kijanskas, Mikuckis, Zaliukas, Andriuskevicius, Zulpa, Mikoliunas, Chvedukas, Cernych, Matulevicius. Subs: Zubas, Vicius, Vaitkunas, Sirgedas, Kazlauskas, Luksa, Beniusis, Slavickas, Panka, Stankevicius, Borovskij, Cerniauskas.
Referee: Pavel Kralovec (Czech Republic).
Lithuania have also filed their team now:
Milner has been excellent, and is generally beloved of England managers, but I think Welbeck-Rooney-Sterling is a front three that can’t really be quibbled with, if that’s to be our formation. Kane will play some part, assuming that injuries elsewhere don’t force Hodgson’s hand. Here’s Hodgson on leaving Kane on the bench:
Harry’s done very well in training, we’re impressed with his form and like him very much. It was good this week to give him a week to get his feet under the table. I’m pretty sure he’ll get his debut, if not tonight then against Italy in midweek. Time is on his side. If I was to play Harry, unless it was a change in system, it would have to be a one-for-one swap and I didn’t want to do that at this moment in time.
Jagielka “has had a very tough programme of late”, says Roy Hodgson, explaining his decision to start with Phil Jones instead. “All the pressure’s on us. I can only hope we keep our shape, keep doing the right things. If we’re lucky we’ll get early goals.”
Two of England’s first XI play their club football in London, and seven of their substitutes.
The England team is in, and looks like this:
Harry Kane is, as expected, on the bench, ready to wreak second-half havoc as required.
While we wait for news of the teams that will contest this hotly-anticipated encounter, the first ever in senior football between these teams, may I offer you the entertainment of the two biggest non-English songs in this week’s Lithuanian chart, excluding the one at No5 that seems to have been released by the radio station that compiled the chart and whose position in it is thus potentially bogus? Enjoy.
Incidentally, the same artist wrote the official song of EuroBasket 2011, the rousing Celebrate Basketball, which I might as well put here too, for the sheer love of official songs. If you, dear reader, have a favourite official song of your own, I’m all ears, I’d wager there are some crackers out there.