England made it nine wins from nine in Group E as they continued their charge to Euro 2016 with a 2-0 win over Estonia.
Roy Hodgson’s men have already secured top spot in the group and played with the handbrake firmly on as goals from Theo Walcott and Raheem Sterling were enough for maximum points.
England had to line up against Estonia without Wayne Rooney, who was missing with an ankle knock and Harry Kane was chosen to lead the line in his absence.Β
The Manchester United striker still topped the billing at Wembley as he was on hand pre-match to collect a personalised ‘golden boot’ from Sir Bobby Charlton, after breaking Charlton’s record as England’s all-time record goalscorer, with his 50th international goal.
England striker Theo Walcott is congratulated
Rooney watched from the stands as England began with a pacey purpose against the nervous Estonians.
Adam Lallana would have pleased new Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp in the early stages with his energetic bursts off the right wing and he found Ross Barkley on 12 minutes inside the area but the Everton man was denied by Mihkel Aksalu.
Barkley fired at goal again on 17 minutes but Aksalu stood strong while Lallana’s deflected effort on 22 minutes looped inches over the crossbar.
After weathering England’s early pressure Estonia grew in confidence and the party atmosphere inside Wembley fizzled out. Full-back Taijo Teniste went on a mazy 60-yard run and was inches away from playing in Ats Purje before captain Ragnar Klavan tried to test Joe Hart from 30 yards but his shot ballooned off target.
Theo Walcott opens the scoring for England on the stroke of half-time
Barkley’s quickfire charges through midfield were a great source of forward momentum for the hosts and he had another long range effort deflected wide on 41 minutes.
He would find a killer ball five minutes later though as England opened the scoring.
The lively Walcott drifted in off his right wing and was found with a well-timed pass from Barkley inside the six yard box. The Arsenal striker is a man in form, having scored six goals in his last eight games, and he tucked the chance away with consummate ease from close range.
One striker that isn’t quite in that goalscoring zone currently is Kane and he cut a frustrated figure in the lone striker role for most of the evening. Chances came his way early in the second half but he mistimed a volley from the right when well placed and then took one too many touches from close range after Lallana’s shot was parried away.
Ats Purje and Gary Cahill tangle
Barkley was the next England player to go close on 76 minutes but his quest for a second international goal bore no fruit as he was denied by a spectacular Aksalu save after some neat footwork on the edge of the area.
The second goal would eventually come with five minutes remaining. Substitute Jamie Vardy burst down the left flank and rolled the ball across the goal for Sterling to turn home from close range.Β
Hodgson’s men now face a final group game on Tuesday night against Lithuania in a bid to make it a perfect 10 in qualification.Β