Yes, It Was A Fantastic Goal. But That’s Not The Point.

First of all, I’m not really that interested in friendlies. I didn’t watch the game last night: my mother in law did and she sent me a text saying ‘what a goal’ because she was watching it. I turned over, thinking Sweden had equalised (I imagined the score was still 2-1) but I had to watch the end of the game to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic score his wonder goal…and surely I’m not the only person who thought that Joe Hart was to blame for it.

The real story last night happened in Montenegro. Two goals from Andrija Delibasic and one from Elsad Zverotic gave the hosts a 3-0 win over San Marino and sent Montengro back to the top of World Cup Qualifying Group H: having played the same amount of games, the Montenegrins have two more points and exactly the same goal difference. We play them in Podgorica at the end of March 2013 in a game that will go a long to way to determining who wins the group and who has to face the playoffs – and at the moment, that could mean a potential tie with France, Croatia or Sweden.

So although it was good to see three young debutants in Stockholm last night – and not forgetting that Steven Gerrard reached a genuine milestone, for which he deserves congratulations – the result is a little worrying. England have only kept four clean sheets in the last ten games and only one of those teams (Italy) is what you’d describe as a world footballing power. As much as I don’t want to sound like a grumpy git, I think the remaining World Cup qualifiers may be not as straightforward as we’d all like to think. We’ll see: the next game is against Brazil in February but if Neymar or Hulk (another player who ‘doesn’t do well against English teams’) are on form then it might not be pleasant viewing.

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