England overcame their initial carelessness to defeat Denmark 2-1 with goals from the Aston Villa duo Darren Bent and Ashley Young
Evening all: I'll be back in 15 minutes with a proper preamble but here's the England starting XI: Hart; Johnson, Dawson, Terry, A Cole; Walcott, Lampard, Wilshere, Milner; Rooney, Bent.
Eighteen months to go: For Fabio Capello and he's made nine changes from the side who were defeated by France back in November. England's record in Denmark is woeful, they haven't won there since 1978 when a Kevin Keegan brace and goals from Bob Latchford and Phil Neal gave them a 4-3 victory over a team including the brilliant Soren Lerby, Frank Arnesen and future Valley boy Allan Simonsen. They have drawn two of the subsequent three matches in Copenhagen but their last visit, a 4-1 thrashing in 2005 with a full team apart from Michael Owen who came off the bench, I remember as a pretty humiliating exercise for Sven-Goran Eriksson. I'm not an expert on this current Denmark side, my knowledge of the great 84, 86 and 92 teams outstrips it I'm afraid. But their record in Euro 2012 Group H looks patch to say the least, two victories, one over Cyprus and one thanks to a 91st minute winner from Thomas Khalenburg over Iceland suggests they are not as strong as they were five years ago.
And here's the Denmark team: Sorensen, L Jacobsen, Agger,
M Jorgensen, S Poulsen, Rommedahl, K Jorgensen, C Poulsen, Eriksen, Krohn-Dehli, Bendtner
Bittersweet symphony: ITV have begun their coverage with The Verve blaring out as usual and we've got Big Sam and Gareth Southgate flanking Adrian Chiles. It's all about Jack Wilshere according to them, the most eagerly awaited debut apparently since Wayne Rooney's, at least so says Southgate. I thought that was Joe Hart. Thad Brown emails in to say: "I'm an Arsenal fan, this is a very sad day. Since Don Fabio has gone public that he will build a squad around young Jack Wilshere I fully expect him to suffer a horrific dip in form, act like a jackass, and eventually get caught with a none-too-hot woman of ill repute while ordering out for a pack of smokes at 100 quid. Great move Capello, maybe someone needs you back in Italy?" This is his final job, Thad, or so he says.
New faces, new players: So says Fabio Capello and he intends Jack Wilshere to sit in front of the back four. "Two Liverpool boys in that side ... the Danish side, obviously. Slight sting of irony in that, no?" writes Chris Cherry, a fact not gone unnoticed by Ian Copestake: "Does the high percentage of Liverpool players in the Denmark side warrant turning this into a Reds blog? If so I'd just like to praise Agger's forearm smash into the visiog of our spurned lover, Torres. Who says football is all about goals?" Another Reds blog? Imagine what would happen below the line … except we don't have one here. Paul Szabo writes in a strange font: "Your photo caption asks why Capello looks so perturbed. Why not find out for sure? Have a Guardian writer 'shadow' him for a few days or so before a friendly, and report on the decisions and issues he faces in trying to gin up a winning side for England. Maybe hang around him during the match, for the tactical decisions. It could be good publicity for both him and you. (Or, we might learn that he really doesn't know crap about this stuff, like us.) What say?" He does know what he's doing, I think, but can't quite believe the players lack the intelligence of the players he used to deal with, Cassano exempted. I'm pleased to see he's got rid of his Gareth Barry comfort blanket, let's see how Wilshere copes and I'll get back to you.
Those teams in full at last:
Denmark: Sorensen, Christian Poulsen, Jorgensen, Agger, Simon Poulsen, Jacobsen, Kvist, Eriksen, Krohn-Delhi, Rommedahl, Bendtner.
Subs: Lindegaard, Wass, Kjaer, Silberbauer, Schone, Vingaard, Junker, Lorentzen, Enevoldsen, Pedersen.
England: Hart, Johnson, Dawson, Terry, Ashley Cole, Lampard, Wilshere, Walcott, Rooney, Milner, Bent.
Subs: Green, Walker, Cahill, Lescott, Baines, Downing, Parker, Barry, Young, Defoe,
Carlton Cole, Stockdale.
On which, David Tiemroth writes: "Dunno if it's worth a mention, but "K Jorgensen" in the lineup is probably better known as W. Kvist. William Kvist, the FC Copenhagen captain whose full name is William Kvist Jorgensen, but never uses the Jorgensen. Similar thing back in 85 when a rather better Danish national team thrashed the USSR 4-2. Preben Elkjaer Larsen was listed in the lineup handed out as Preben Elkjaer, as he was known as back home. The USSR was just grateful that the mercurial striker Preben Larsen wasn't in the side. Cue two goals from Elkjaer in the first twenty minutes and red faces on the USSR bench." Thanks, David, great story.
The anthems done and dusted: And off to the ads. Luke Stevenson writes on the subject of ITV's hype and it is more than a shade over the top: "I hope ITV mention Jack Wilshere...so far they have forgotten about him and the inhuman amount of pressure the collective press are putting on him...I dont think theyve even noticed he's starting...*ahem." They haven't called him "Messiah" yet … but give them time.
1 min: We're off, under the roof with England in their Finland kit. England build from the back with Terry to Dawson and over to Johnson. Wilshere gets a couple of touches, sitting in front of Terry. the ball goes back to Hart who plays it to Wilshere and out to 87-cap Cole and across field for an England throw off Simon Poulsen.
2 min: Eriksen plays a lovely through ball, splitting Terry and Dawson and Bendtner looked to have timed his run perfectly but he's given offside. Not sure. Then Johnson is caught in possession on the right, he plays it to Bendtner, double lollipops as Big Ron used to say and fires wide.
4 min: Engalnd go straight up the other end with Bent one on one with the keeper, Kvist not seeing the through ball early enough but Sorensen's out and knocks the ball off Bent's toe to Rooney who spins and shoots at goal but three Danish defenders get back to block.
6 min: England corner after good link up play betwen Cole and Milner on the left and the cross is knocked behind. They play it short, Lampard to Walcott but his cross is blocked.
8min: The auto refresh should be on now. Sorry
GOAL!! Denmark 1-0 England (Agger) Brilliant cross from Eriksen, dreadful marking up by England and the cross fizzed in from the right and Agger dived in between Terry and Wilshere to score with a powerful header.
GOAL!! Denmark 1-1 England (Bent) Another example of rotten defending following England's as Simon Poulsen let the ball bounce and Walcott to hold him off, twist and wrongfoot him then hit it across the six-yard box for Bent to tap in.
10 min: Shockingly bad defending from Johnson again, disorientated by playing on the right? He knocks a square ball blind to Eriksen who prods through to Bendtner to shoot. Don Howe would do his nut at both side's sloppiness at the back.
12 min: William Marzouk writes: "Not watching the match but for all the talk of injuries and withdrawals Capello has put out a very sound starting XI." It is strong, apart from at the back where they've been all over the place, particularly vulnerable down the right and to crafty passes between the centre-halves. They look very fluent going forward, though. They've got EPL thriller disease.
15 mins: Denmark move breaks down by the right, Jacobsen almost getting behind the tracking back Frank Lampard but Bendtners "1" in the one-two was overhit. "Watching the Danish language feed. Did you know "Rommedahl" rhymes with "Emmerdale"? Neither did I. Is his first name Seth?" writes David Marriott. Nay, nay, nay Mr Wilkes. Whither Toke Townley?
17 mins: Corner for Denmark, headed out to Emmerdale who hits it on the half volley and Rooney sticks out a leg to deflect the shot for another corner.
19 mins: Again England's defence is almost caught square but Cole is paying attention and cuts out Krohn-Delhi's pass to Jacobsen. "So all this talk of Wilshere and Lampard as holding midfielders and they are actually playing across a flat midfield 4 in a 4-4-2 formation? I'm starting to think Capello doesnt really know what he's talking about." You may be right, Luke Stevenson. But maybe what he tells them goes in one ear and out the other.
21 mins: Neale Redington has a word of praise for Uncle Woy: "For all Woy's shortcomings, at least he called out Johnson as rubbish. When will others realise that he 'has no clothes'." I think, by and large, they do, at least in international/ CL football. England starting to get possession and Milner and Walcott have switched flanks, Milner beating Jorgensen on the right but overhitting his cross into Sorensen's hands.
23 mins: Plenty of empty seats and it sounds very quiet until the bloke with the drum starts up. Mark Power makes a neat analogy: "Frank Lampard, 8 Feb 2011: 'When I was younger I was desperate to get back into the fray in case people started to forget me. As you get older, you start concentrating on yourself more.' I'm reminded of a line from Tom Stoppard's Travesties, concerning 'a degree of self-absorption that would glaze over the eyes of Narcissus'. What is it with the Redknapp/Lampard clan? That whizzing sound ... that's the entire fricking universe revolving round them, isn't it?" It's certainly true of Aitch, Mark.
25 mins: He is very much a pundit's player is Frank. They never criticise him and Andy Townsend is eulogising him at this very moment. I do think he's very good for Chelsea and was for England in 2004-05 but I do feel, Gerrard or no Gerrard, that he hasn't done well for the national side consistently enough for the past four years. Denmark have Agger playing it to Jacobsen who bullies his way up the right, squares to Simon Poulsen who shoots high and wide.
28 mins: Another good Denmark move featuring Bendtner trapping it with his chest, knocking it to Eriksen who's looked very bright around the edge of the box, over to Krohn-Delhi who crosses across goal but too near to Hart and the goalline. Goal kick for England.
29 mins: Bad Glen Johnson banished for a bit as good Glen goes marauding up the right and belts in a fine centre that Bent can't quite reach, lunging forward with his head. Lampard getting more involved now.
31 mins: Jack Wilshere looked there for amoment as though he'd knacked his right knee in an awkward twist after a tackle but he's game to carry on, a little gingerly. A minute later he seems fine and moves forward to thread a Fabregas like pass through to Rooney but it's slightly overhit and Sorensen gathers.
33 mins: "Jack Wilshere looks like that werewolf chap from BBC Three's 'Being Human'," writse Bill Chilton. "Would be great if he actually was and changed 10 minutes into the second half and ate everyone. Now that would make the ITV coverage bearable." Now Denmark hold the ball up front,it's sticking to Bendtner and he moves away from Lampard to play a one-two with Eriksen who shoots, having left Dawson for dead, and smacks it against the bottom of Hart's left-hand post. Krohn-Delhi then whaccks the rebound over.
36 mins: Mike Hennessy asks is it worth racing home for the last 20 minutes. It is an entertaining match, very low on defensive quality. And yes, Tom Burgess, Eriksen looks very good indeed. But England have been very lax at tracking him.
39 mins: Eriksen at it again, wriggling free and waltzing behind Wilshere, attracting Terry out of position to close him down and he spins a pass out to Rommedahl who shoots across goal and Hart sticks out his leg to divert it out for a corner.
41 mins: "Of the Poulsen twins (!) I always thought Roy YNWA Hodgson had meant Simon rather than Christian as his intended target. The former certainly
seems a decent player." Hear, hear, Ian Copestake. Terry brings the ball forward as if it was 2004, over the halfway and plays it to Lampard who taps it out to Walcott and then runs into the box. Walcott shoots, heading wide, and Lampard backheels it into the net but he's offside.
43 mins: JD Spaulding tells us: "For what it's worth, one of the ads on the digital sideline hoardings is Morten Olsen (the Danish manager) shilling for hearing aids (Widex)." Interesting. There's been some positively dopey positional play from England's two central midfielders and the back four over Eriksen getting between them and causing havoc. They really don't respond well, think on their feet, or cope with someoine drifting into the 'ole as Ozil did at times in South Africa. They look flummoxed by a very basic attacking strategy.
45 mins: Free kick Denmark wide on the right about 30 yards from goal after Milner's foul on Jacobsen. Eriksen plays a beautifully threatening curling ball into the box and its inches off Agger's nose as he stretched, ahead of his marker, to nod it in.
Half time: I'm off for a pie. Back in 10. "It's often said of friendlies that 'X will learn something about Y tonight'. Well what? Has anything substantive ever been learned in a friendly? Top level sport is all about pressure - playing without pressure isn't top level sport," writes Gary Naylor. Substantive, no. But against Denmark in 1994, Venables learned that Darren Aderton and Graeme Le Saux had international pedigree. Andrew Morris is chortling at this. And why not? "Christian Eriksen was born in the historic whale hunting town of Middlefart which, if not amusing enough on its own, is translated literally as 'central passage'." Finbarr Saunders would be on the floor now. No more Emmerdale fun, thanks to Peter Mortensen, who should know: "Since -sen names are very common in Denmark (Larsen = Lars´ son), it´s quite common to skip it if you´ve got a middle name, like for instance Elkjaer. -dahl, though, does not rhyme with -dale even if they are etymologically the same words ("valley"). Great to watch the match on Danish television while reading comments here! May the best side win - if it happens to be the Danish one!"
Off goes the messiah, Wilshere: Ashley Young, Gareth Barry and Scott Parker on for Lampard, Wilshere and someone else. I'll get back to you on that, Milner I think.
46 mins: For Denmark Wass comes on for Simon Poulsen. Young came on for Rooney actually, sorry about that. England's captain is Ashley Cole.
46 mins: Denmark building up their right but Milner forces Wass backwards and gets him to go right back to Sorensen.
48 mins: Keepball from Denmark, stroking the ball around midfield, C Poulsen dropping deep to allow his centre-backs to step up. England win it back at last and Young goes up the left but is squeezed out.
49 mins: On Peter Mortensen's remarks, David Marriott writes: "Someone should tell the Danish commentator this. He must be a bumpkin from the Danish equivalent of Oop North." Young stands up a cross to the far post after being played in by Johnson and Bent from eight yards out heads it into the flying Sorensen's upper arm and Denmark clear. Should have scored.
52 mins: Parker wins the ball of Christian Poulsen and comes forward, over to Milner who crosses and Ashley Young heads it t the near post but Sorensen gets up to catch.
54 mins: Ian, I had to ditch the pie and went for pasta instead. The pie just wasn't flaky enough for keyboard mishaps, which always amuse the next person in the seat. Milner hits a 60-yard crossfield pass from left-back to outside right and Walcott almost manages to get there. But if he can't, no one can, and so it proves.
55 mins: And Bent should really have scored again. Milner wins a bouncing ball byb throwing his knee at it, gets past Poulsen and threads a pas to Bent on the left of the area, he fizzes his shot first time but it's three feet high and rising. Not really, three feet wide.
58 mins: About two minutes before the last post, Eriksen left Johnson on his backside, poking the ball around him and skinning him. Fortunately for England, his cross was cut out. Gary Cahill on for Dawson. Silberbauer for Jacobsen for the Dynamite.
60 mins: Young, Parker and Barry have done well so far. Young drifting out to the left, checks and chips a pass out to Walcott on the right. His cross goes out for a corner from which Terry rises at the near post but balloons his header over. Oliver Billenness has been in touch: "I love Scott Parker. He's a proper player. A real box-to-box midfielder, better in the tackle than Gerrard, Lampard or Wilshere ever have been or will be, but with an ability to fire the ball into the net from 25/30 yards regularly. Plus, he looks like a proper England throwback, as if he could have played in '66, '86 or '96. Shame he hasn't played more for England, that this is only his fourth cap at 30 is a crime."
63 mins: Another England corner is knocked out by Denmark and When Young turns in the centre-circle to hit a long pass, England just drift offside. Here's the always thoughtful Petr Fremont: "As for Capello's expression, consider that Wilshere, the center of the team to come per the English media, is a water carrier at Arsenal for Fabregas (so recently beloved of that same media in its many forms), and Fabregas can only make the Spanish bench under normal circumstances. The bench where Wilshere might be if Nasri and Song are available with Fabregas. Maybe Capello, like any workman, is wondering about his tools. Wilshere is good enough to be matched against Eriksken and it's not clear what other young English midfielder would be up to it. Any suggestions?" No one as good as him, Petr. No one.
65 mins: Rommedahl shoots. He doesn't score. England are still looking vulnerable at the back with Krohn-Delhi again splitting England's defence with a fine pass. Eriksen gets there and backheels to Rommedahl and Hart saves well.
67 mins: Thomas Sorensen is down for a spell getting treatment after scampering across goal when Young shot wide from distance.
England substitution: Downing on for Walcott.
GOAL!! Denmark 1-2 England (Young) Downing on for Walcott. Johnson in Dr Jekyll mode brings the ball forward after Downing's tackle and storms forward. He plays a lovely weighted pass to Young who steers the ball powerfully into the net with his instep.
71 mins: Luke Stevenson addresses Oliver on the subject of Scott Parker: " Blame Chelsea for that, in their spending heyday they were lesser known as a potential graveyard for English talent. See Joe Cole, Scott Parker and, to a lesser extent, Steve Sidwell."
73 mins: England getting forward well. Sorry for that Twitter intervention there. What happened?
75 mins: Parker is a very neat player. Does a shift unobtrusively at times as Mick McCarthy would say, but he has got the skill to go with the bite.
77 mins: "I'm enjoying that pic of Darren Bent rocking two wrist sweatbands: I never saw him work hard enough to break a sweat but hey, why not. He looks a bit like post-suicide attempt Richie Tenenbaum." Thanks for that David Weiss. Though I must admit I hated that film. Mind-frazzlingly pretentious I thought. Parker just came back into the box and got his foot in, really sprinting to get back in there.
79 mins: And now Parker's limping after that block. Christopher Sand-Iversen brushes up our Danish: "Dahl does sort of rhyme with dale if you pronounce dale in a Yorkshire, Lancashire or Welsh accent, ie with a long 'ae' sound. While central passage would be hilarious, Middelfart has never translated as such!!! 'Middle journey' is most likely given that Middelfart is about in the middle of the country, 'average speed' would also be possible. Sorry to poop your party there." Two weeks' break in Average Speed, dear?
81 mins: Leighton Baines on for Ashley Cole. "That's it Rob – it's Chelsea's fault England are rubbish. Joe Cole, Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell are as good as Messi, Xavi and Iniesta – but Chelsea ruined them," writes Jeremy Solomon. I just print some of them, I don't have time to construct cogent arguments one way or the other. I leave that to you lot.
83 mins: On to pressing matters from David Ormerod: "Can anyone tell me where to get a decent meat pie in Orange County?" Well? Denmark corner, comes to naught. God knows who's England captain now. And does anyone really care?
84 mins: Over to Andrew Laws: "Who is Gary Naylor? I'm beginning to think you have conversations with Gary Naylor in empty tube carriages on the way home. Next he'll be suggesting you set up an underground boxing club together." He's either real or a construct of Rob Smyth and Scott Murray. I think it's the former. Denmark free kick five yards inside England's half, taken by Eriksen but he van't clear the line of England defenders on the edge of the box.
86 mins: "I don't want to take a retaliatory poop on Christopher Sand-Iversen's party but if "fart" is Danish for 'Speed' does that mean that the movie about a bus that would blow up if it slowed down with Keanu Reeves in it was titled 'Fart' in Denmark?" Smelled like it, Andrew Morris.
88 mins: Petering out as you can possibly tell, the match as well as me. Downing just ran 50 yards up the right cut inside and passed to Young whose shot hit the prostrate body of Kjaer lying in the box like a 'fart' bump.
89 mins: "What's with the recent trend for English football crowds mangling Sloop John B? They don't even get the tune right. I blame Phil Brown." The orange one has a lot of charges to face. "When you typoed 'but he van't clear the line' I wonder how many of your readers continued reading the rest of the line in a dodgy German accent. Great, just me then." Ve hav vays – thanks Ian Copestake.
90 min: Free kick in from Vingaard and Kjaer gets up to meet but Cahill manages to steer it out for a corner.
90 mins + 1: Poulsen in the box is marshalled away by Parker who, nips the ball off him and runs away from him. Poulsen is mighty slow. Or maybe jurs tired becaue he's done so much running for Liverpool …
Full time: England win 2-1 after an improved second half performance. Scott Parker and Ashley Young did enough to warrant places in the full-strength squad and although Eriksen sparkled in the first half, he didn't get the service in the second, thanks to Parker and Barry. Did we learn anything. No. Like Seinfeld, no hugs, no lessons. But it was entertaining enough and England will be relieved to have won and to have shown better positional awareness in the second half. Thanks for your emails. Good night.