England v Estonia: Euro 2016 qualifier – as it happened

Theo Walcott and Raheem Sterling scored the goals as England took care of business against Estonia at Wembley

Full time at Wembley: England 2-0 Estonia

Peep! Peep! Peeeeeeeep! It’s all over. England have won fairly easily against very ordinary opposition that brought little to the party. It wasn’t much of a spectacle, but a win is a win and England’s fiendish plan to go through qualification without dropping a point is still on track. They played well in spots, but a tendency towards the over-elaborate didn’t work too well for them. That said, Theo Walcott’s opener came at the end of just such a move, while Raheem Sterling’s second-half effort came from a far more direct approach. Onwards to Lithuania, where England conclude their progress through this group.

Joe Hart and Gary Cahill applaud their fans.
Joe Hart and Gary Cahill applaud their fans. Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images


90+2 min: Dele Alli tries to scoop the ball into the path of Jamie Vardy on the edge of the Estonia penalty area, but an Estonia defender intervenes to hoof clear.

90+1 min: We’re into the first of three minutes of added time and Ross Barkley is announced as the man of the match. I wouldn’t argue with that, but thought Adam Lallana played very well and was in with a shout too. Estonia win two corners in quick succession, but nothing comes of them.

89 min: It’s worth remembering that by winning tonight, as they surely will, England guarantee themselves a place in the pot of top seeded teams for the Euro 2016 draw. This will, of course, ensure they avoid other top seeded teams in the group stages.

88 min: England substitution: Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli comes on for his England debut, with Ross Barkley making way after another fine performance. He’s in the form of his life.

86 min: That was straight out of the Route One handbook. Harry Kane flicked on a long punt from Joe Hart, Vardy read his intention and got in behind the Estonia defence and squared the ball perfectly into the path of Sterling who was up in support.


GOAL! England 2-0 Estonia (Sterling 84)

Good play from Vardy, who unselfishly plays the ball across the face of Estonia’s goal to tee up Raheem Sterling for a tap-in, when he could have been forgiven for shooting himself.

Sterling score his second.
Sterling score his second. Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian


83 min: Sander Puri does well down the left, creating a bit of space for himself and curling a shot high and wide when perhaps he should have crossed.

82 min: With less than 10 minutes to go, England make another change. England’s goalscorer Theo Walcott makes way for Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, who is on for his Wembley debut.

80 min: Sterling goes close to making me look a complete idiot after controlling a cross from the right. He turns this way and that in an effort to work himself into a shooting position from about 14 metres out, but is thwarted by tenacious defending from Jaager, who’s played well for Estonia tonight.

Sterling has an unsuccessful shot.
Sterling has an unsuccessful shot. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images


79 min: Sterling curls a shot wide after good work down the left. He’s not had one of his better games, has Raheem. His touch has looked a little off and his passing a little heavy.

76 min: Ross Barkley almost obliges, only to be denied by a splendid save. More patient passing around the fringes of the Estonia box, leads to Ross Barkley being picked out on the edge of the area. He shows great feet to soft-shoe shuffle his way into a shooting possession, but his right-footed surface to air screamer is palmed out for a corner by Mihkel Aksall. That’s a great effort and an equally fine save. Nothing comes of the ensuing set-piece.

74 min: Artur Pikk trips Theo Walcott and is booked for his troubles. That’s the first yellow card of the evening, which will give you some idea of the level of aggression and full-blooded needle on show. England could and should completely kill this game off with another goal.

73 min: England substitution: Adam Lallana off, after a good and lively performance. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain comes on in his place.

72 min: Move along, nothing to see here at the moment. In the absence of much second half entertainment on the pitch, the crowd have decided to amuse themselves by sending a Mexican wave around Wembley, while the England band have struck up yet another tedious rendition of England Til I Die.

70 min: Well I thought it was interesting.

69 min: Estonia double substitution: Sander Puri on for Ats Purje and Joel Lindpere on for Aleksandr Dmitrijev. Interesting fact: Sander Puri plays for Sligo Rovers in the League of Ireland.

66 min: An email from James Bridge: “England wilt, when up against a technical side,” he says. “And it starts at the grass roots, Barry. Since Estonia implemented ‘Koormuuria’ in the late 90’s. A playing philosophy that embraces the 70’s Dutch attacking style, allied with the defensive pragmatism of the late 90’s Stockport County. Estonia have become the powerhouse of Baltic football, and it is only now that the foresight and intelligence of Hilju Kuusma and Ivan Huuntein, and their single mindedness as Chair and Vice Chair of the Tartu FUAC can be seen. Only through them and their ideals can Estonia perform to this aspirational level. Truly Barry, a Mouse Can Roar.” Well, if nothing else, you can’t fault James’s optimism.

65 min: Gary Cahill lands in a heap after contesting a high ball with Ats Purje and looks to have done a mischief to his elbow. It looked a serious injury, with the player landing heavily on it from quite a height, but he’s fit to continue. I’m not sure Jose Mourinho will be impressed to see him soldiering on.

Cahill lands in a heap.
Cahill lands in a heap. Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images
and winces as he holds his arm after landing funny.
and winces as he holds his arm after landing funny. Photograph: Joe Toth/BPI/Rex Shutterstock


63 min: Elsewhere in Group E, Slovenia lead Lithuania 1-0, while Switzerland are two goals up against scoreless San Marino. Estonia’s already faint hopes of securing a play-off berth look doomed.

61 min: Nathaniel Clyne slashes the ball high and wide with a wild shot from just outside the Estonia penalty area. It was a rather ill-fitting climax to a passage of play in which various other England players had attempt a more intricate approach to one-two-ing their way through the Estonia defence.

58 min: Artur Pikk picks out Ats Purje in the England penalty area and the Estonia man goers to ground with Chris Smalling having barged into him. He had a decent shout for a penalty, in my opinion. He didn’t get one.

57 min: Sterling gets past Teniste on the left wing and attmpets to pull the ball back into the penalty area for Theo Walcott. Ken Kaliste leaps to clear.

Sterling skips over the tackle from Teniste.
Sterling skips over the tackle from Teniste. Photograph: Jordan Mansfield/The FA via Getty Images


56 min: Estonia don’t really seem to have turned up at Wembley with a Plan A, let alone a Plan B or C ... they look completely bereft of imagination and can consider themselves very fortunate to be just one goal down. With less faff and more clinical finishing, England could be four or five up.

54 min: Another chance for Barkley, who sends a shot fizzing across the face of the Estonia goal and narrowly wide. On this occasion he showed the poise and balance of a ballerina, nimbly dancing past three Estonia defenders before unleashing a pile-driver with his right foot.

53 min: Ross Barkley trips over his own feet under pressure from a defender as he powers his way into the Estonia penalty area and attempts to get the ball onto his left foot and create a shooting opportunity. The crowd appeal for a penalty, but none is forthcoming. Good decision by the referee.

51 min: Another good chance for England. Lallana has a shot saved, but the rebound drops nicely for Harry Kane. Again the striker is thwarted as goalkeeper Mihkel Aksall saves Estonia’s bacon.

48 min: Marked tightly by Enaar Jaager, Harry Kane attempts to score with a volley after getting on the end of a wonderful cross from Nathaniel Clyne. He scuffs the ball with the sole of his right foot, it promptly clanks of his standing leg and a good chance goes begging.

Kanehits it on the volley, but scuffs it.
Kanehits it on the volley, but scuffs it. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP


46 min: Raheem Sterling picks up the ball in the corner after failing to chest down a cross from Walcott on the right. With a defender in close proximity, he wins the ball but fails to keep it in play, then appeals for and doesn’t get a corner.

Estonia kick-off at Wembley for the second half

That goal in the final minute of the first half will have been like a dagger through the heart of the poor sods. They were outclassed in the opening 45 minutes, relying more on England’s inability to score rather than any stout defending of their own to keep the scoreboard operator idle for the first 44 minutes.

They’ll do well to avoid shipping another two or three in this second half, particularly as fatigue from constantly chasing the ball begins to set in. There don’t appear to be any changes on either side after the interval.

An email from Sarah Rothwell

“As luck would have it, I find myself following your MBM, replete with mentions of Raheem Sterling, while next to my computer is my LFC 2015 wall calendar,” she says. “The player pictured for October? Yes, you’ve guessed it. I did actually consider jumping straight to November, such was my disappointment.”

Well Sarah, after today’s unveiling, you could always just print off the picture below, cut out the face and stick it over Raheem’s face. That would surely bring a smile to your own visage every day for the rest of the month.

Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool’s new Mr October. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Half-time at Wembley: England 1-0 Estonia

England go off after opening the scoring with a fine goal. Ross Barkley was the delivery man there, providing a wonderful assist with a wonderfully threaded pass through the penalty area and into the path of Walcott, who expertly dispatched the ball past Aksalu and into the bottom corner. The build-up play was superb too, showcasing much of the trickery and sleight of mind that England were trying earlier with considerably less success.

GOAL! England 1-0 Estonia (Walcott 45)

Theo Walcott does well to stay onside and score into the bottom right-hand corner after pouncing on a sensational pass into the penalty area that took out three Estonia defenders.

Walcott scores.
Walcott scores. Photograph: Carl Recine/Action Images


43 min: With the crowd noise in Wembley barely above a low murmur as we approach the interval, England work their way down the left wing. And what’s this ...

40 min: Now James Milner sends the ball high over the bar, as England continue plugging away in search of their opening goal.

39 min: An England corner, which Lallana plays to Walcott on the edge of the penalty area. The ball’s played to the left, where Milner and Lallana work the ball into the box, picking out a run from Lallana. He shoots low and hard towards the near post from a good position about 13 or 14 metres out, but his effort is blocked by Ragnar Klavan.

38 min: Theo Walcott tries his luck after cutting inside, but sends his shot wide.

36 min: Estonia enjoy some possession just inside the England half, but look bereft of ideas about what to do next. They move the ball backwards or from side to side, but rarely forward. They need somebody to take responsibility and attempt to grab what passes for their game by the scruff. Midfielder Aleksandr Dmitrijev has looked their best player thus far. Certainly the most creative of an as yet fairly uninspired looking bunch.

35 min: James Milner tries to pick out Harry Kane with a curling delivery into the Estonia penalty area. Rising to meet the ball with his head, Kane shoves his marker Enaar Jaager in the back and is spotted by the referee. Free-kick for Estonia.

Kane, missed chance.
Kane, missed chance. Photograph: Michael Regan/The FA via Getty Images


34 min: I mentioned that a more agricultural approach was required and who better to deliver than no-nonsense yeoman James Milner. He’s teed up by Harry Kane a few yards outside the penalty area and leathers a shot wide of the Estonia goal.

30 min: Estonia enjoy the beginning of a purple patch, with Ats Purje looking dangerous, only to get the ball stuck under his feet in the penalty area and gifting England’s defenders the opportunity to hack clear. Moments later, Chris Smalling does well to put the ball out for a corner rather than volley it past his own goalkeeper, while dealing with a dangerous Aleksandr Dmitrijev cross from the left.

28 min: Criticism corner: Theo Walcott’s been a bit quite so far, while Raheem Sterling’s passing has been rather erratic, to say the least. Collectively, England have been a little over-elaborate when perhaps a more direct approach might have served them better. On other occasions, it would infuriate their supporters, but in a match of such little consequence it hardly matters.

26 min: Adam Lallana has a shot defelcted over the crossbar after being teed up by a good pass by James Milner. Lallana sends in the corner from the left and Gary Cahill gets on the end of it to head well wide.

Lallana has a go, but it’s deflected.
Lallana has a go, but it’s deflected. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP


25 min: Ross Barkley releases Sterling with a wonderful pass down the left flank. The winger outsprints Jaager, who is back covering and so another period of sustained England pressure on the fringes of the Estonia penalty area begins.

24 min: Sterling cuts in from the left and attempts to drill the ball through the Estonia penalty area. Jaager blocks the pass and Mets hacks clear.

Sterling leaves Mets in his wake.
Sterling leaves Mets in his wake. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA


23 min: England continue to press and probe, waiting for the first goal that could, on the evidence of what we’ve seen so far, herald the opening of the floodgates. They’re playing well, but lacking a bit of finesse at crucial moments.

21 min: Kane attempts to tee up Raheem Sterling on the left-side of the Estonia penalty area, but upon being confronted by a defender, he rolls it towards the onrushing Ryan Bertrand. Once again, he slightly overhits his pass and a good chance goes begging. There was distinct touch of the Arsenals about that move.

20 min: After good play on the right from Nathaniel Clyne, Raheem Sterling overhits a cross towards the far post, which floats over the head of Harry Kane and wide of the Estonia goal.

18 min: England continue to dominate, with Lallana, Kane and Sterling all giving their markers plenty to think about. Estonia midfielder Karol Mets is given plenty to think about by the referee, who gives him a ticking-off for diving in on Barkley as he attempted to chase the ball, which he’d just miscontrolled. He was lucky to get away without a booking.

Barkley upended by Mets.
Barkley upended by Mets. Photograph: Mark Pain/Rex Shutterstock


16 min: Estonia central defender Enaar Jaager is penalised for a hefty challenge on Ryan Bertrand, leading to a free-kick for England halfway inside the Estonia half. Nothing comes of it.

15 min: A poor punched clearance from Estonia goalkeeper Aksall drops for Barkley on the edge of the penalty area. He sends the ball back with interest, courtesy of a fine drive, but doesn’t trouble the goalkeeper unduly.

12 min: On the edge of the Estonia penalty area, Ross Barkley gets goal-side of Ken Kaliste with a nimble turn, before chasing a beautifully threaded Adam Lallana into his path. The Everton midfielder goes down and appeals for a penalty, claiming to have been tripped by the Estonia winger and he might well be right. No spot-kick is forthcoming.

Barkley muscles past Kallaste.
Barkley muscles past Kallaste. Photograph: Christopher Lee/The FA via Getty Images


11 min: After a succession of throw-ins, Estonia get their collective foot on the ball, stringing a few passes together before ceding possession to their hosts again. Wembley doesn’t look full, the fans that are their in reasonably good voice.

9 min: Throw-in for Estonia, just inside the England half, which is taken by the left-back, Artur Pitak. Soon after, they win another on the opposite side of the pitch , but show little ambition by playing the ball backwards.

8 min: On the edge of the final third, Harry Kane scoops the ball over the Estonia defence, picking out a wonderful run in behind by Raheem Sterling. A good opportunity is spoiled when Adam Lallana gets in his team-mate’s way on the edge of the area. Estonia clear.

Kane breaks through the Estonia defence.
Kane breaks through the Estonia defence. Photograph: Mark Pain/Rex Shutterstock


6 min: Estonia get out of their own half, attacking down the right flank. Taijo Teniste goes on a gallop from right-back, but is penalised for a foul on Ryan Bertrand, giving England a free-kick in their own left-back position. Joe Hart does the honours, hoofing the ball towards midfield.

4 min: England are in complete control of the game already, having got off to a really positive start. Almost five minutes in, they’ve had four or five corners already, prompting much chaotic defending in the Estonia penalty area.

3 min: Barkley hesitates in a promising position in the Estonia penalty area, following a corner that was swung into the box by Adam Lallana. He looked to have a shooting opportunity there. Moments later, Theo Walcott brings a good save out of Estonia goalkeeper Mihkel Aksall with a well struck, rising volley from the edge of the penalty area. He really got his foot across that one. Good effort.

2 min: England begin on the front foot, with Jame Milner anchoring their midfield three, with Adam Lallana to his right and Ross Barkley to his left.

England kick off against Estonia at Wembley

1 min: England get proceedings under way courtesy of Adam Lallana and Harry Kane, their players kitted out in white shirts, white shorts and white socks. Estonia’s players wear blue shirts, black shorts and blue socks.

National anthems: As the pre-match formalities continue, a quick reminder that can you can keep tabs on all tonight’s other qualifiers with Scott Murray’s Euro-clockwatch.

Estonia fans
A couple of Estonia fans beam for the cameras. Photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters

Not long now ...

The teams have lined up in the tunnel and walked out on the pitch, with Gary Cahill leading out England as captain. Behind the teams, Wayne Rooney and Sir Bobby Charlton emerge, all the better for the latter to present the former with a commemorative golden boot in honour of his record-breaking achievement in become England\’s leading scorer of all time. Rooney accepts the boots, which is perched on a wooden plinth, to warm applause from all present. He’s on 50 not-out, although he won’t be adding to that tally tonight because of injury.

Wayne Rooney is presented with the Golden Boot by Sir Bobby Charlton after breaking his record of 49 goals.
Wayne Rooney is presented with the Golden Boot by Sir Bobby Charlton after breaking his record of 49 goals. Photograph: Michael Regan/The FA via Getty Images


Attendance watch ...

Wembley is expected to be full tonight, while England’s fans will be joined by 720 travelling Estonia fans.

Estonia fans.
Estonia fans. Photograph: Darren Staples/Action Images


Harry Kane
Harry Kane warms up as he prepares to lead the line in Wayne Rooney’s absence tonight. Photograph: Mark Pain/Rex/Shutterstock


How Estonia line up ...

There aren’t too many household names in the Estonian ranks, but ITV’s graphic has them lining up in a 4-2-3-1, with Ats Purje playing as a lone frontman, with Konstantin Vasiljev in the middle of the three behind him and Ken Kallaste and Sergei Zenjov to his left and right. Aleksandr Dmitrijev and Karol Mets are the defensive midfielders in front of the back four.

Previous meetings ...

England and Estonia have played three times previously, with England currently leading by an aggregate score of 7-0. Estonia will be hoping for complacency on the part of their hosts tonight, so they can get off the mark and increase their slim chances of qualification.

England v Estonia
Meanwhile in the England dressing room ... Photograph: Michael Regan/The FA via Getty Images


England v Estonia line-ups ...

England: Hart, Clyne, Smalling, Cahill, Bertrand, Lallana, Milner, Barkley, Walcott, Kane, Sterling.

Subs: Walker, Butland, Jones, Chamberlain, Jagielka, Townsend, Shelvey, Vardy, Alli, Gibbs, Heaton.

Estonia: Aksalu, Teniste, Jaager, Klavan, Pikk, Kallaste, Dmitrijev, Mets, Zenjov, Purje, Vassiljev.

Subs: Meerits, Londak, Barengrub, Jurgenson, Baranov, Lindpere, Puri, Antonov, Kams, Gussev, Teever, Luts.


England team to play Estonia ...

Joe Hart, Nathaniel Clyne, Chris Smalling, Gary Cahill, Ryan Bertrand, Adam Lallana, James Milner, Ross Barkley, Theo Walcott, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling.

We’ll bring you the bench and their opponents just as soon as we have them.


Estonia training
Estonia’s players were put through their paces at Wembley yesterday. Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images


Early team news ...

Roy Hodgson is expected to give several England fringe players a run-out this evening, in a fixture they won 1-0 courtesy of a late Wayne Rooney free-kick when the sides played in Tallinn’s Le Coq Arena almost exactly one year ago. Rooney won’t be available to save his team’s bacon this evening, having been ruled out with an ankle injury, but he will be presented with a golden boot by Sir Bobby Charlton before the game, having surpassed his fellow Manchester United legend’s England scoring record with his 50th international goal in the win over Switzerland last month. England are also without John Stones, who withdrew from the squad with a knee injury, while Danny Ings and Michael Carrick are both considered doubts, but may feature. Kick-off is at 7.45pm BST, but we’ll be here with team news and build-up before that.

Bobby and Norma Charlton
Sir Bobby Charlton, pictured here with his wife Norma, will be at Wembley to present Wayne Rooney with a golden boot. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Can England maintain their winning run?

Having already assured themselves of their berth at France 2016, England take on Estonia in the hope of maintaining their 100% win record in the qualifiers. Having won eight out of eight, England top Group E and need a pair of wins from their two remaining games against Estonia and Lithuania to become only the sixth side in history to complete Euro qualification without dropping a point.

France (Euro 92), Czech Republic (Euro 2000), France (Euro 2004), Germany (Euro 2012) and Spain (Euro 2012) currently occupy the roll of honour, although it’s probably worth noting that Spain were the only team to go on to win the tournament, successfully defending the title they’d won four years previously at Austria & Switzerland.

A win in either of their final two qualification games will also guarantee England a place among the top seeds for December’s Euro 2016 draw, with the 24 teams who eventually qualify set to be seeded into four pots of six, then drawn into six groups of four. Nations will be allocated their place in pot one, two, three or four based on their Uefa national team coefficient, a ranking which will be calculated in November and based on results over the previous two-and-a-half years. Exciting, eh?

A win for England against Estonia or Lithuania will guarantee them a place in the Big Boy pot, thus enabling them to avoid having to face anyone too scary in the group stages next summer.

Estonia have plenty to play for too, as they can still leapfrog Slovenia into third place. Slovenia currently enjoy a two-point lead over Estonia in Group E and entertain Lithuania this evening. On Sunday they visit San Marino, while Estonia face second-placed Switzerland. Indeed, Estonia could conceivably take second place in the group, by beating England tonight, hoping other results go in their favour and then putting the hurt on the Swiss in Tallinn on Sunday night. However, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that isn’t going to happen.

England v Estonia
THe programme for tonight’s match, featuring record-breaking cover star Wayne Rooney. Photograph: Joe Toth/BPI/Rex Shutterstock