England 2 Lithuania 0: no problems as Jermain Defoe and Jamie Vardy strike to dismiss limited opponents

Jason Burt

Jermain Defoe claimed his goal, claimed the headlines and helped England claim the points but this will not be an international fixture that lives long in the memory beyond being filed as: getting the job done.

Victory over Lithuania cemented England’s place at the head of Group F in their bid to qualify for next year’s World Cup and bringing back Defoe, four years after he last played for England, was justified in the predatory way he claimed his goal before the 34-year-old was then substituted around the hour mark.

England, though, laboured against a nation ranked 107th in the world – directly below Ethiopia, Mozambique and Mauritania – and although Lithuania effectively deployed a 9-1 formation and were not against some cynical fouling they also managed to threaten.

England manager Gareth Southgate made changes from the midweek friendly defeat away to Germany and the most significant was the inclusion of Defoe.

The reasoning was that against a team whose aim would be – largely – to defend then Defoe’s poacher’s instinct could prove vital and so it proved when Raheem Sterling easily beat Egidijus Vaitkunas - too strong, too quick for his marker - and pulled the ball back.

Enlgand vs Lithuania player ratings

Defoe and Dele Alli were queuing up and it was Defoe who side-footed powerfully into the net for his 20th goal for England and his first since a previous World Cup qualifier against San Marino four years and four days ago when he scored twice. It was also Defoe’s first England goal at Wembley for seven years.

He came close before that when Kyle Walker intercepted and sprinted forward to find Adam Lallana who cut inside and slipped the ball through to Defoe whose shot, as he fell, was blocked by goalkeeper Ernestas Setkus.

Defoe celebrates his goal against Lithunia

Once ahead England should have pushed on and tried to but ran into the massed defence of their opponents who provided a scare on half-time as Nerijus Valskis latched onto a powerful header forward to himself nod the ball goalwards, past Joe Hart who came charging out of goal with John Stones scampering back to clear off the line. Valskis was offside but somehow the flag stayed down.

Southgate changed it up and there was a rapid reward as England did finally add a second goal with Lallana being picked out by Walker with his smart, first-time pass releasing Jamie Vardy – who had come on for Defoe – and he calmly steered his shot around Setkus.

Vardy should have claimed his second when he was put clear by another substitute Marcus Rashford but wastefully lifted his shot over the cross-bar. The scoreline remained modest, as was the performance, but England had the win.

England were nearly caught out before the break

 

6:56PM

Match report

and reaction to follow.

6:53PM

Full time: England 2 Lithuania 0

The game winds down pleasantly, everyone has had a decent time of it and one or two lesser England lights - Michael Keane, Bertrand, Rashford have done their claims no harm at all.

6:50PM

89 mins

You can tell the game is at fever pitch, because the camera is scanning the ground for women. "Happy mothers day all you mums," says Clive Tyldesley.

6:48PM

87 mins

Simonas Paulius, who almost sounds like he could be in the Bible or something, comes on and Vykintas Slivka makes way.

6:46PM

84 mins

Rashford again with some great skill, slips it to Alli who shoots. Deflected. The Ox with the follow-up! He creams it... but at the keeper.

6:44PM

83 mins

Rashford has made things happen in all departments since he came on. A deadly dead ball delivery now from a corner, headed just over by Alli.

Keane is impressing. Here he is cutting out a dangerous cross from Grigaravicius at the near post.

6:43PM

81 mins

Lith have done quite a bit more in the second half.

England vs Lithuania

 although all these things are relative

England vs Lithuania 6:42PM

80 mins

Lovely ball from Rashford, who spots Vardy. The Leicester man tries to dink it over the keeper, but gets a little bit too much on it.

6:38PM

77 mins

Couple of good bits of play from England, Lallana with a clever through ball using the outside of the boot, and now an excellent cross from Walker. Neither quite come off.

6:37PM

75 mins

Eric has broken his Twitter silence.

6:34PM

71 mins

Absurd handball from Rashford, who leaps in the air to flap at the ball. "You can't do that," says Glenn Hoddle. "A learning curve for the young man."

Call me a stickler, but surely an England international should have cottoned on to the whole "you can't touch it with your paws" rule already?

6:32PM

70 mins

The Lithuanians are putting a bit more on the table now, though, and have had one or two decent thrusts.

Walker continuing to impress, feeds Alli, who shoots at the keeper.

6:27PM

GOAL! VARDY!!!

nice bit of football from England. They're down the right, it is played in from Walker to Lallana, neat wall pass. Vardy strikes it from 12 yards. I think that might well have been his first touch.

England 2 - 0 Lithuania (Jamie Vardy, 66 min)

England 2 Lithuania 0 (Vardy 66)

6:26PM

That's it! Vardy gets the second

And that ends it as a contest no doubt.

6:22PM

59 mins

Defoe comes off, Rashford comes on. Sterling off, Vardy on.

Second half has been more even. Lithuania pressing forward more.

6:17PM

55 mins

It's the key moment of the match, the news we have all been waiting for, the decision that changes everything: Novikovas off, Grigaravicius on.

Tum-ti-tum. Lallana with a break, Zulpa with a foul, referee with a card.

6:14PM

53 mins

Nice effort at goal from the Ox, who shifts the ball onto his right foot and cracks it at goal. Beaten clear.

6:13PM

51 mins

Lithuania's best moment! A break down the left, Fedor Cernych crosses it and Vykintas Slivka. It takes a deflection, for a split second Hart's, er, heart is in his mouth. But it's in range and he gathers it.

6:08PM

47 mins

Bertrand, who has had a good match, crosses low and finds Sterling. Raheem should have scored! But he got the ball tangled under his feet. It only needed a touch at the back post.

Vaitkunas, who has already done one bad foul, is booked for fouling Oxlade-C.

Walker, who has also had a good match, crosses and Alli heads over. England are well stocked for attacking full backs these days, aren't they? You could add in Broadway Danny Rose, Luke Shaw if he gets better, Baines, Dier maybe, Glen Johnson.

6:07PM

46 mins

The match is back underway, but the good people in the pound seats are very much still enjoying the prawn sandwiches.

Credit: ITV

5:51PM

Half time: England 1 Lithuania 0

Much as expected really.

5:51PM

45 mins

England nearly undone by a sucker punch! Ball lofted forward, Lithuania's Slivka is A MILE offside but the lino for some reason ignores that. Stones and Hart at sixes and sevens, Hart comes out and fails to claim, Slivka heads over him, the ball is hooked off the line. No flag.

5:48PM

44 mins

Lithuania, like an accountant letting their hair down at an Xmas Party and taking to the dancefloor, have tried a venture into the England half, and then got embarrassed and tried to revert to the more familiar environs of their own area.

Lion-up: The England team observe a one-minute silence to remember those who lost their lives in the recent Westminster incident Credit: Getty Images

 

5:44PM

40 mins

Neat move flounders when Bertrand makes a sloppy mistake and lets the ball run out for a GK.

5:44PM

37 mins

Good things so far: Defoe's finish, nice darting run and cross from Raheeeeem. Pitch looks nice. Mascot. That's about it.

Joe Hart kicks long, but England's battery of clockwork mice up front are unable to get a head on it. A considerable lack of big man-ness in this XI.

5:38PM

The many lives of Defoe, J

5:37PM

33 mins

Crunching, mis-timed tackle from Linas Klimavicius. Catches Alli with a nasty one; luckily the Spurs star is okay.

5:35PM

29 mins

Defoe has a crack! Well wide.

England doing a decent job. By keeping the ball moving, switching it, they are able to pull the plucky-ish Lithuanians out of position and, if they can get a decent cross or two going, this should be over by half time.

5:34PM

27 mins

England continue to pour it on. The England half is a merely notional concept for the visitors so far.

England vs Lithuania 5:33PM

Here's how the goal went down

England 1 - 0 Lithuania (Jermain Defoe, 21 min) 5:30PM

26 mins

Minor concerns as Sterling and now Dier both need a little treatment but neither man seems in serious trouble.

5:30PM

25 mins

5:24PM

GOAL! Defoe!

Defoe. Excellent work from Sterling down the left, burns past a couple of challengers, crosses low with his left foot. Defoe has worked himself a little space, he opens up his body and slots it home with the right foot. Alli was also lurking for the tap-in, but Defoe used all his experience to make sure.

England 1 Lithuania 0 (Defoe 21)

5:24PM

21 mins

Lallana with a through-ball, Defoe stabs at it first time. Good save keeper!

5:23PM

20 mins

Said Egidijus Vaitkunas has, in the words of Glenn Hoddle "conned the referee" now into awarding a freekick against Sterling when he blocked off Vaitkunas.

5:23PM

18 mins

England have a corner, not a lot comes of it, Dele Alli is spoken to by the ref for some minor tugging with Egidijus Vaitkunas.

5:21PM

17 mins

Keane sprays it ou wide, Kyle Walker with great athleticism to cross it.... Defoe nearly in business there.

5:20PM

16 mins

The OX, one of my favourites of this generation, crackles into life and tries a bustling run through the centre. One of the approx. 73 Lithuanian men on the 18 yard line gets in the way.

5:19PM

I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it

5:19PM

15 mins

Rake's progress

5:17PM

12 mins

England setting up shop in the corner of the Wembley pitch that represents their left-wing/Lithuania's right back area.

England's best moment yet, Lithuania stretched. Lallana gets to the left, crosses... Walker has pushed up from right back! Cleared. Now Lallana has a very tame shot. Still, encouraging enough.

5:14PM

10 mins

The England action mainly down the left, Bertrand is prominent. "I don't think Defoe has touched the ball yet," says Clive Tyldesley.

5:13PM

7 mins

England attempt something from the training ground. It should have stayed there. A short freekick into the feet of Alli, he tries to flick it on for, I think, Bertrand but it goes awry.

"Good to see that they have worked on something, they just need to implement it better," says Glen Hodd. They've done a practice! Mind as well just hand that World Cup over now.

5:11PM

4 mins

Everything in place for a typically meh England afternoon. The visiting team dug in, a back four and then five midfielders right back there as well.

5:06PM

1 mins

Right. The formalities are done. England in white, Lithuania yellow. The visitors carefully reverse the bus in front of their penalty area. Alli the first England player to show, trying a dart down the left.

5:05PM

Hart

5:03PM

Silence at Wembley

in memoriam of those affected by the Westminster events.

Credit: ITV

5:01PM

Mascot show-stealer

Credit: ITV

Two thumbs up from this boy, Bradley Lowery. He's being shepherded by Jermain Defoe. When Jermain was Bradley's age, football was played between villages.

4:58PM

Lithuania

Mascots arranged in height order, very sweet.

Credit: ITV

 Lithuania's tracksuits are rather snazzy. Their national anthem goes on for a pleasingly long amount of time.

4:52PM

I'm with Paul here

4:43PM

Joe Hart interviewed

talking about his overhyped and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to gee up the troops at the Euros.

Credit: ITV

4:36PM

Gareth Southgate

"It was a real plus for us the way Michael Keane played in Germany," he says, by way of explaining why England had abandoned their back three for a back four today.

"I hope Graham would have understood how revered he was," he says of Graham Taylor and the  tribute that will be paid later.

Credit: ITV

4:34PM

Those guests

Sensible Lee, jolly good, always nice to see Lee.

Wrighty, bless him. And Ryan Giggs, a rose between two thorns there.

Credit: ITV

And here's how they think the team will play....

Credit: ITV

4:30PM

Pougers!

Afternoon Pougers. Looking very sharp.

Credit: ITV

I wonder who his guests are? 

4:26PM

Team

4:22PM

Let's get into the England spirit

By coating off the manager for his team selection. Why oh why Gareth has not picked the brilliant erm whatshisname, and the world-beating er thingy, I just do not know.

4:19PM

Well done to Mr Defoe

Still a goal threat at the ripe old age of 100, and well done also to Michael Keane, who makes his first competitive start.

England fans make their way to Wembley Credit: PA

4:16PM

The teams

England (maybe a 4-2-3-1) Hart; Walker, Keane, Stones, Bertrand; Dier, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Sterling, Alli, Lallana; Defoe.

Lithuania (maybe a 4-2-3-1) Šetkus; Vaitkūnas, Kijanskas, Klimavičius, Slavickas; Kuklys, Žulpa; Novikovas, Slivka, Černych; Valskis.

4:15PM

Defoe starts

Gorn Jermain

4:10PM

Police presents

Imagine how happy the police officer must have been when they gave him/her this to drive. This looks way fun to drive about in. 

Police car tank thing Credit: PA

4:06PM

Wow this scene goes on for ages

I had forgotten. Nearly as long as it is taking Gareth Southgate-Badger to get this team out. come on, Gareth Southgate-Badger.

4:04PM

Tremendous

Dr No is on TV.

Credit: ITV

A+ for the futuristic evil laboratory thing, A++++++ for Bond's handy disguise. 

3:53PM

Here's an England great of yore

One of his successors, Joe Hart, will skipper the team today.

3:51PM

How's about this for a slice of lower league fried gold?

while we await the team news. 

3:49PM

Jason Burt's Video Preview

Is here, and I commend it to you.

3:47PM

And in the meantime, you simply must see this

3:39PM

Sir Gareth of Southgate

Will name his team directly from these individuals

Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Torino, on loan from Man City), Tom Heaton (Burnley).

Defenders: Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Man Utd), Michael Keane (Burnley), Luke Shaw (Man Utd), Chris Smalling (Man Utd), John Stones (Man City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham).

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham), Michail Antonio (West Ham), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Man Utd), Jake Livermore (West Brom), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Nathan Redmond (Southampton), Raheem Sterling (Man City), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton).

Strikers: Jermain Defoe (Sunderland), Marcus Rashford (Man Utd), Jamie Vardy (Leicester).

3:34PM

Good afternoon!

A lovely sunny Sunday here in London, perhaps the nicest day of the year so far, and we should all be determined not to let the fact that England are playing football spoi-- I do beg your pardon. I mean COME ON ENGLAND!

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