By Chris Wright
It’s not looking particularly promising is it?
More by accident than design, a lumpen England side laboured to yet another unconvincing win in their final warm-up game against Japan – only two weeks before their World Cup campaign starts in earnest.
A brace of own goals were enough to see England come from behind to seal an undeserved 2-1 win over an industrious but fairly limited Japanese outfit.
Japan took a surprise lead early on when centre-back Marcus Tulio Tanaka slipped past Glen Johnson to dispatch a straight-forward set-piece corner routine through Ashley Cole’s legs and into the back of the net with just six minutes on the clock.
After the break, Frank Lampard saw a penalty saved by Eiji Kawashima and 15 minutes later the Japanese ‘keeper produced an excellent full-stretch save to repel Wayne Rooney’s curling effort that seemed to be top-corner bound.
With 18 minutes left to play, Tulio Tanaka returned to display his prowess in front of goal once again, notching with a fine diving header, although this time it was Joe Cole’s cross he diverted past his own goalkeeper.
England finally took the lead in the 82nd minute when Ashley Cole’s low cross skidded off the wet surface and Tulio’s central-defensive partner Yuji Nakazawa inadvertently diverted the ball past the stranded Kawashima.
Here’s my ratings, although given the nature of the performance, no one has scored particularly well…
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David James Not at fault for Japan’s goal, and had little else to do during the other 40 minutes he spent on the pitch 6
Glen Johnson Was at fault for Japan’s goal. After playing so well against Mexico, Johnson was a real disappointment, reverting back to his slack defensive ways and proving to be largely ineffective when coming forwards 5
Rio Ferdinand Looked to have a communication problem with Terry, perhaps due to the awkward captaincy situation. Slow off the mark on a couple of occasions but marginally better than he was against Mexico 6
John Terry Noticeably less vocal since he lost possession of the armband. Strong in the tackle and solid in the air but looks like he’s lacking the chest-puffing pomp that the captaincy gave him 6.5
Ashley Cole Struggled to get beyond Aaron Lennon in an attacking sense, but defended resolutely and it was his dangerous cross that lead to England’s winning goal 6.5
Theo Walcott Rubbish. Again. Why Adam Johnson wasn’t given a start instead is beyond me. Seems to be still getting picked on the back of his performance against Croatia, a year-and-a-half ago. As Ollie hinted in his review, the Arsenal winger may be a shock omission from the World Cup squad given his current poor form 4
Tom Huddlestone After Michael Carrick’s dire outing against Mexico, Huddlestone had a great chance to play his way into Capello’s World Cup collective but the Tottenham midfielder endured a regrettably forgettable afternoon 5
Frank Lampard Passable in the first half and much better when teamed with Steven Gerrard in the second. Should be replaced as England’s penalty-taker in chief for the World Cup after his recent ominous misses 6
Aaron Lennon Needs to be deployed on the right ahead of Walcott. The game did not suit his style but he did show flashes of intent. Spurned a great opportunity to score, choosing the wrong shooting option when played in by Rooney’s excellent reverse pass 6
Wayne Rooney England are solely reliant on Rooney to create anything from open play and it’s looks to be weighing on him. Frequently lost patience with teammates, who couldn’t match his invention and execution. By no means at his best, but the fact that he was head and shoulders above everyone else is an indictment of England’s attack 7.5 MAN OF THE MATCH
Darren Bent Was on a completely different wavelength to Rooney meaning his constant movement was mostly in vain. Didn’t really get any clear chances to score, putting a difficult header wide 5
Joe Hart (on for James: 45 mins) Looks completely undaunted by the international game, and made a handful of athletic saves 7
Jamie Carragher (on for G. Johnson: 45 mins) Shored up the right side of the England defence by playing as an old-fashioned orthodox full-back 6
Shaun Wright-Phillips (on for Walcott: 45 mins) All the pace in the world and no idea how to use it, but at least showed a bit of eagerness to get on the ball 5
Steven Gerrard (on for Huddlestone: 45 mins) Replaced Huddlestone at half time and was, unsurprisingly, ten times more effective. Whipped in a tantalising cross at the death that Heskey somehow managed to fluff 6.5
Joe Cole (on for Bent: 45 mins) Might of just saved himself from missing the cut for South Africa with an energetic cameo. Linked well with Rooney whilst playing just off him, but faded when moved out to the left to make room for Heskey. It was his cross from the by-line that saw England equalise 6.5
Emile Heskey (on for Lennon: 77 mins) What can you say about Heskey that hasn’t been said a thousand times already? Yes, he wins headers – but his knock-ons very rarely find his team-mates. Missed a great chance to add an ‘actual’ goal to England’s tally by failing to get any convincing contact on Gerrard’s dangerous cross 4.5
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