IT took England nearly an hour to break down a resilient and resolute Malta side.
The game was crying out for a Wayne Rooney moment. He wasn’t there, of course, so it needed a new national hero to step up to the plate.
Harry Kane was that man!
A far from convincing performance in the main, but the final result was all that mattered. England still top the group.
However, I still have reservations about Gareth Southgate’s team selections and tactics.
The Three Lions looked out of sorts for long periods of the game; too many players playing out of position.
Play to your strengths; play like you do for your club.
It’s not rocket science.
So what’s next for England as they prepare to face closest rivals Slovakia on Monday?
And what were the positives they can take from the Malta game?
The performance of Kane, of course. And then the other two goals from Ryan Bertrand (not quite Ashley Cole but getting close) and Danny Welbeck. Another work in progress.
But, for me, the turning point of the game was the half time introduction of Marcus Rashford. He made the Maltese cross (sorry for the pun) with his pace and purpose.
England’s three second half subs – Welbeck, Rashford and Vardy – made all the difference. Food for thought for Southgate going into the next game.
Skipper Jordan Henderson hit the nail on the head when he said afterwards that there are positives to take from the game but that ‘there is room for improvement’.
No arguments there.