England defeats Wales 1-0 at Wembley
England is on the brink of qualifying for Euro 2012 after a 1-0 victory over Wales on Tuesday that was marred by the death of a Welsh fan.
Start subscription to America’s premier online destination for LIVE international soccer and rugby action, featuring LIVE streaming of Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League, Serie A, and more! Don't miss a second of the action. Try it NOW.
Upcoming matches include ...
- September 10: Arsenal v Swansea
- September 10: Bolton v Manchester United
- September 11: Fulham v Blackburn
- September 11: Palermo v Inter Milan
The 44-year-old man suffered a heart attack after reports of an assault before kickoff outside the north London stadium, authorities said. Police said he later died in hospital and that six men, who officers believe to also be Welsh, were arrested in connection with the incident.
Details only emerged around two hours after the European Championship qualifier, which saw England end a yearlong wait for a home win.
Ashley Young scored the only goal from Stewart Downing's cross in the 35th minute to put England six points clear at the top of Group G.
Fabio Capello's side struggled to live up to its status as the world's fourth best team against a side ranked just 117th by FIFA and bottom of the group.
Robert Earnshaw squandered a golden chance to equalize in the 77th when he missed an open net from six meters (yards).
''We were a bit lucky, they made a big mistake in front of the goal,'' Capello said. ''In the last 15 minutes we suffered a bit and didn't play good passses. We never pressed the ball, We were without speed ... We survived the last 15 minutes.
''We didn't start with a lot of movement, it was really slow, there was no good passes.''
England will secure a spot at Euro 2012 with at least a draw in its last qualifier on Oct. 7 at Montenegro, which is second and still has two games left.
''We were a bit disappointed how we played at times but the most important thing was getting the three points,'' Downing said.
Capello remains perplexed at how his players could coast to a 2-0 victory in Wales in March that belied the scoreline but be so unimpressive at home, where his team has failed to win its previous four matches.
''Playing at Wembley we seem to lose confidence here, some players that usually dribble and go straight at goal don't do it,'' Capello said. ''We pass across the goal four or five times, I want always three players in front of the goal. Tonight there was one. When we play at Wembley, we want to play with more courage.''
Capello sprung a surprise by recalling midfielder Frank Lampard to the starting lineup to earn his 89th cap after being reduced to a substitute's role in the 3-0 victory in Bulgaria on Friday.
But there was little of the dynamism shown in Sofia by England, which struggled to impose itself on Speed's initially defense-minded side.
''How comfortable we were on the ball against a top team was very good and makes me proud,'' Wales manager Gary Speed said.
In the opening 30 minutes, John Terry flashed a header wide from Young's corner and Downing skewed the ball over from close range.
There was little service for Wayne Rooney, who netted twice on Friday but has not scored at home for England since Sept. 2009 against Croatia in 2010 World Cup qualifying.
In the first half, he was reduced to tracking back inside to try to gain the ball.
And it was former Aston Villa teammates who combined to break the deadlock.
Downing went past Joe Ledley on the right flank before dragging the ball back from the byline. Young, who was unmarked six meters (yards) from goal, swept the ball inside Wayne Hennessey's near post to net his third England goal.
A cross from Young floated into the box five minutes later, but Rooney couldn't get a touch.
England was more assertive briefly at the start of the second half, with Lampard lifting the ball over on the hour from the edge of the area.
But when Hennessey dropped a free kick from Downing, Gary Cahill could only scoop the bouncing ball over.
And there was a nervy end for the hosts as they clung on to the three points, with Earnshaw's miss and England goalkeeper Joe Hart finally called into action by blocking Chris Hunter's close-range strike with 10 minutes to go.
Capello will be hoping this is his last competitive home game as England manager. If there is another it will mean England has not topped Group G and will have to contest a November playoff to reach the finals in Poland and Ukraine.
England: Joe Hart, Chris Smalling, Ashley Cole, Gareth Barry, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Stewart Downing (Adam Johnson, 79), Frank Lampard (Scott Parker, 73), Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney (Andy Carroll, 89), James Milner.
Wales: Wayne Hennessey, Chris Gunter, Neil Taylor, Andrew Crofts, Darcy Blake, Ashley Williams, Joe Ledley, Jack Collison (Andrew King, 85), Steve Morison (Robert Earnshaw, 68), Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale.