For all of his talent, Wayne Rooneyâ€™s seemingly uncontrollable temper still undermines his talent. The 25-year-old was dismissed after 73 minutes for kicking out at defender Miodrag Dzudovic. And the forward’s petulance not only cost his team victory in Montenegro but ensured Fabio Capello’s star man will be banned for England’s opening Euro 2012 group stage game – and possibly longer if Uefa decides to increase his punishment. The dismissal emphasised the only flaw remaining in Rooney’s game and the striker is still plagued by the same demons which saw him dismissed against Portugal in the quarter-finals at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Darren Bent is Englandâ€™s in-form striker and he deserves to be given his chance at Euro 2012. The Aston Villa forward continues to impress in the Premier League and he is starting to recreate his club form on the international scene. His movement is a constant threat to defenders and his understanding with former Villa team-mate Ashley Young is a combination which continues to yield dividends for Capello.
The best performer in Podgorica was Manchester United winger Ashley Young. He starred on the left side of midfield, traditionally a problem position for England, scoring the opener and providing an assist for Bentâ€™s goal. The 26-year-old, substituted after 61 minutes, has effortlessly slotted into the United set-up and he is building a reputation as one of the national sideâ€™s key men. And he will only blossom further under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.
Hate him or loathe him, Ashley Cole is a genuine world class left-back, and he provided stability to the back four on a wet night in Montenegro. The Chelsea defender’s composure was in contrast to right-back Phil Jones’s less assured display. United’s Â£16.5m summer signing struggled in the difficult conditions and the 19-year-old was fortunate when his lunging tackle on Stevan Jovetic went unpunished by German referee Wolfgang Stark. During the continued absence of Glen Johnson, Capello has tested both Jones and Chris Smalling in the position, with the latter excelling.
Andrija Delibasic’s late equaliser handed Montenegro the vital point they needed to secure second spot in Group G ahead of Switzerland, who suffered a 2-0 defeat by Wales at the Millennium Stadium. Branko Brnovic’s men, currently ranked 48 in the Fifa rankings, booked a play-off place without losing to England and their steely determination will make them tough opposition for any nation.
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