Lithuania 0 England 3
England made it a perfect 10 with a beating in the Baltic, but their record-breaking achievement was marred by fighting between the visiting fans and their Lithuanian counterparts.
Goals from Ross Barkley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well as an own goal from Lithuania stopper Giedrius Arlauskis, meant Roy Hodgson’s men ended their pristine Euro 2016 qualification campaign with a 3-0 win.
A year on from their wretched World Cup campaign, England will head to France next summer having won all 10 of their qualifiers.
England are now unbeaten in 15 international matches, their best run of form since 2006. pic.twitter.com/e4nrZXL3bV— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 12, 2015
It is the first time England have qualified for a major tournament in this format with a 100 per cent record – and for that Hodgson deserves great praise.
England’s group may have been the easiest in qualifying, but the achievement should not be sniffed at, and once again the likes of Barkley, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana showed glimpses of class against a weak yet stubbornly-well organised Lithuania side.
England’s performances and form will not worry Hodgson, but his bosses at the Football Association will be concerned at the disturbances in Vilnius on Monday night.
England and Lithuania fans fighting in the stands https://t.co/PeYpSM2TDt— Paul Hirst (@hirstclass) October 12, 2015
The Lithuanians had not sold out the 5,500-seater stadium so tickets went on sale earlier this week and the England fans who travelled to the Baltic nation clearly snapped them up. That meant Lithuanians and English supporters mixed in the same stand and that spelled trouble.
The skirmishes started before kick-off when the England fans who had bought tickets in the home end, clashed with their Lithuania counterparts. The supporters brawled and missiles were thrown before riot police stepped in to break up the fighting and separate the fans.
The Lithuanian supporters booed God Save The Queen, before the England fans started singing anti-IRA songs.
An uneasy truce ensued between the two groups as the match began.
Harry Kane, his breath visible in the chilly air, was eager to make the most of a surprise start.
The Tottenham striker drew three impressive saves from Arlauskis within the first 22 minutes, but he then played an important part in England’s opening goal.
After some impressive play down the right, Kane rolled the ball to Barkley, who got the ball out from under his feet before cracking a shot into the goal off the upright. Replays showed the shot took a slight deflection off Tomas Mikuckis, but it was still a stunning strike from Barkley.
Passes attempted: 43October 12, 2015
The Everton midfielder continued to impress, driving at the hosts’ defence while Lallana probed the back line with a series of nifty passes – one of which helped put England 2-0 up.
Lallana flicked the ball into Kane’s path after receiving the ball from the Spurs forward and he unleashed a low drive which hit the post and struck the goalkeeper’s back before the ball rolled into the net.
Kane wasted two good chances to add a goal of his own after the break. Arlauskis palmed a close-range effort from Kane straight back at the Spurs man, but his shot was blocked by Linas Klimavicius. Arlauskis produced a top save to deny Barkley from the resulting corner.
The Lithuania stopper could do nothing to stop Oxlade-Chamberlain’s fine strike just after the hour, however.
The Arsenal winger beat the offside trip and latched on to Kyle Walker’s incisive pass before belting the ball into the top corner to seal the win which sent England to France on the back of a 10-match winning streak.