England's static wingers fail to flick the switch to stretch Wales

Ashley Young and Stewart Downing were blockaded by good cover and should have crossed over to find different angles

A smooth, convincing England win was expected and style and swagger demanded to build on the performance in Bulgaria but neither were delivered. Wales, without Craig Bellamy, were reduced to only one very quick attacker, a vital quality as one anticipated England dominating possession.

England took time to settle and there was an absence of variety in attack. Ashley Young held the left, Stewart Downing the right while Wayne Rooney searched deep from his central attacking position where he found himself surrounded by a cluster of genuinely talented young Welsh players. For Wales Steve Morison was a lone striker who left Gary Cahill and John Terry untroubled to play balls out under no pressure.

James Milner was uncertain of his role, making few advanced runs and despite being given the key responsibility for thwarting Gareth Bale, failed to deter passes to the Tottenham midfielder. And with Frank Lampard playing one- and two-touch safely and Gareth Barry rarely advancing from his station in front of the back four it was a relatively static first half with England dictating but not creating.

Joe Ledley would not thank Neil Taylor for his covering lapse when Downing diddled him to give Young the opportunity hopefully to allow England to flourish after the break but Wayne Hennessey remained untroubled.

England began the second half at a quicker pace, Milner roving and more expansive, trying to stretch Wales with forward runs to reduce the midfield congestion. Wales tiring, but resisting bravely, had a late resurgence and made England nervous.

Where were the crossovers and interchanging of the creative front trio? Downing and Young rarely switched flanks and Rooney never consistently roamed out wide where he could have used his forceful dribbling skills. Here, Chris Gunter and Taylor coped surprisingly well with Young and Downing. When Young was forced inside Andrew Crofts was ready to challenge and when that route was blocked Gunter held his own when Young progressed wide. Had Downing come over to the left, his angle of attack would have given the defender a different dilemma.

Robert Earnshaw's lazy miss after escaping from Scott Parker wasted a fine chance to equalise. With five minutes left Andy King, a proven midfield scorer, replaced Jack Collison, a move which epitomised Wales's ambition. Yet they can hold their heads up after restricting Capello's team, who showed little subtlety or cunning in the creative areas to worry unduly any of the seven other eventual group winners.

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