Walcott a hero as England win thriller

Theo is mobbed after his goal

Theo is mobbed after his goal

First published in Saints News

Sweden 2 England 3 Danny Welbeck scored a dramatic winner as England roared back to win a thrilling Euro 2012 clash with Sweden in Kiev.

Roy Hodgson's men only require a draw in their final outing with co-hosts Ukraine on Tuesday to claim a last-eight berth.

When the dust finally settles, Hodgson will take huge satisfaction from the knowledge both his bold selection moves, picking Andy Carroll and introducing Theo Walcott, paid off handsomely.

Less palatable will be replays of the atrocious defending that forced England to launch their memorable fightback after a half-time lead turned into a deficit as Olof Mellberg twice took advantage of opponents' slackness to put Sweden in front.

There was no sign of the drama to come during a drab first half.

Scott Parker brought a decent save out of Andreas Isaksson after Welbeck rolled an inviting lay-off into his path.

Welbeck guided a header wide from James Milner's cross too.

Sweden had a few half-chances and Sebastian Larsson brought a decent save out of Joe Hart.

However, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic enduring one of those evenings when English fans wonder what the fuss is all about, Sweden seemed to be there for the taking.

The opportunity England craved was a while in coming and, as so often, Steven Gerrard provided it.

From virtually the identical position he created Joleon Lescott's goal in Donetsk on Monday, the skipper launched another inviting cross to the far post.

Carroll got between defenders and rose majestically to power his header into the bottom corner.

Much as he may bristle at what is perceived to be the criticism of straight-forward tactics, if England are good at it, Hodgson should make no apology for playing to such strengths.

It is not as though England are incapable of incisive passing when it suits.

Cole threaded an excellent ball through Sweden's defence for Young to run on to.

A poor first touch cost the Manchester United man valuable momentum, though, and he ended up snatching at his shot, which Isaksson saved by the near post.

How galling so much good work was undone within four minutes of the restart.

If there is blame to be apportioned, it should be to Carroll for his crude chop at Kallstrom's legs 30 yards from the England goal.

After that, it was all down to luck.

In lifting the ball back into the box after his initial free-kick had been blocked, Ibrahimovic could not have expected to pick out Mellberg, completely unmarked, eight yards out.

Hart made a terrific one-handed save, only for the ball to bounce straight into Johnson, whose desperate attempt to keep it out of the net met with failure.

Worse was to come.

Having proved how adept they at scoring from deep crosses, England showed a shuddering ineptitude at defending them as Larsson drove a touchline free-kick deep into the box.

Despite so many bodies around him, Mellberg was completely on his own and gave Hart no chance from point blank range.

Hodgson took immediate action, replacing Milner with Walcott. Once again his decision was a master-stroke.

Three minutes later, Walcott, hanging back at a Gerrard corner, collected the loose ball from a Sweden clearance, and with defenders and attackers merging in a frenzy of movement to retake their positions, fired through the lot.

Isaksson, unsighted, was totally deceived and could only watch helplessly as the shot flew past him, only a few inches away but completely out of reach.

It was Walcott's first goal since that hat-trick in Croatia almost four years ago - and probably his best international performance too.

The goal blitz had squeezed the contest completely out of shape.

Even though both sides could still advance with a last-game triumph as things stood, neither were prepared to settle for it.

Hart shovelled Ibrahimovic's shot wide before England countered and got their winner.

Walcott can be infuriating at times. Not this evening though.

And when the Arsenal man drove toward the by-line, he pulled a cross back to the near post, where Welbeck, instinctively, back-heeled it in.

The result leaves Hodgson wondering how to restore star man Wayne Rooney to his starting line-up given Carroll and Welbeck were so impressive.

That is a problem for another day.

Gerrard was foiled by Isaksson in stoppage time to deny England a more handsome final scoreline.

But in the best tournament for decades, England have joined the party.

Walcott is England hero - see tomorrow's Daily Echo

Comments (21)

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2:52am Sat 16 Jun 12

OSPREYSAINT says...

Never doubted them for a minute!
Never doubted them for a minute! OSPREYSAINT
  • Score: 0

4:49am Sat 16 Jun 12

ghk230473 says...

Good result but why do all England teams struggle retaining possession? We drop deeper to find room but only manage to invite teams onto us.
It starts at grass roots football and if we are to stand any chance of lifting silver ware at international level, we must bring young players through and regulate the foreigners per team.
Good result but why do all England teams struggle retaining possession? We drop deeper to find room but only manage to invite teams onto us. It starts at grass roots football and if we are to stand any chance of lifting silver ware at international level, we must bring young players through and regulate the foreigners per team. ghk230473
  • Score: 0

8:11am Sat 16 Jun 12

BowesSaint says...

ghk230473 wrote:
Good result but why do all England teams struggle retaining possession? We drop deeper to find room but only manage to invite teams onto us.
It starts at grass roots football and if we are to stand any chance of lifting silver ware at international level, we must bring young players through and regulate the foreigners per team.
We only started passing the ball in this country when the foreign players came in. Before that it was a la allardyce; kick and rush. What we really need is to get some of our players technically good enough to play in La Liga and serie a; so they can adapt more to different and technically far superior international teams; maybd they cod take the tiresomely jingoistic and irritating England brass band with them ?
[quote][p][bold]ghk230473[/bold] wrote: Good result but why do all England teams struggle retaining possession? We drop deeper to find room but only manage to invite teams onto us. It starts at grass roots football and if we are to stand any chance of lifting silver ware at international level, we must bring young players through and regulate the foreigners per team.[/p][/quote]We only started passing the ball in this country when the foreign players came in. Before that it was a la allardyce; kick and rush. What we really need is to get some of our players technically good enough to play in La Liga and serie a; so they can adapt more to different and technically far superior international teams; maybd they cod take the tiresomely jingoistic and irritating England brass band with them ? BowesSaint
  • Score: 0

8:13am Sat 16 Jun 12

BowesSaint says...

ghk230473 wrote:
Good result but why do all England teams struggle retaining possession? We drop deeper to find room but only manage to invite teams onto us.
It starts at grass roots football and if we are to stand any chance of lifting silver ware at international level, we must bring young players through and regulate the foreigners per team.
We only started passing the ball in this country when the foreign players came in. Before that it was a la allardyce; kick and rush. What we really need is to get some of our players technically good enough to play in La Liga and serie a; so they can adapt more to different and technically far superior international teams; maybe they could take the tiresomely jingoistic and irritating England brass band with them ?
[quote][p][bold]ghk230473[/bold] wrote: Good result but why do all England teams struggle retaining possession? We drop deeper to find room but only manage to invite teams onto us. It starts at grass roots football and if we are to stand any chance of lifting silver ware at international level, we must bring young players through and regulate the foreigners per team.[/p][/quote]We only started passing the ball in this country when the foreign players came in. Before that it was a la allardyce; kick and rush. What we really need is to get some of our players technically good enough to play in La Liga and serie a; so they can adapt more to different and technically far superior international teams; maybe they could take the tiresomely jingoistic and irritating England brass band with them ? BowesSaint
  • Score: 0

9:31am Sat 16 Jun 12

midlandsaint says...

I reckon we need to change this mentality we seem to have that 1-0 is going to be good enough, getting the first goal and then sit back letting the opponents come on to us. I think we would be much better if we went into each game looking to get 3 goals. I don't mean go all Kevin Keegan and mental and simply trying to score more than the opposition while leaking goals everywhere though.
I reckon we need to change this mentality we seem to have that 1-0 is going to be good enough, getting the first goal and then sit back letting the opponents come on to us. I think we would be much better if we went into each game looking to get 3 goals. I don't mean go all Kevin Keegan and mental and simply trying to score more than the opposition while leaking goals everywhere though. midlandsaint
  • Score: 0

10:24am Sat 16 Jun 12

jezza says...

Theo is a top lad who will become world class given time and encouragement.

I'd still like to see him back with the Saints, where I think he would definitely reach his potential.
Theo is a top lad who will become world class given time and encouragement. I'd still like to see him back with the Saints, where I think he would definitely reach his potential. jezza
  • Score: 0

3:10pm Sat 16 Jun 12

flatulence hero says...

Magic game for Theo, had a point to prove and did it in terrific style.

Well done Theo, now lets have some of that magic at Arsenal this new season.
Magic game for Theo, had a point to prove and did it in terrific style. Well done Theo, now lets have some of that magic at Arsenal this new season. flatulence hero
  • Score: 0

3:27pm Sat 16 Jun 12

OSPREYSAINT says...

England were crying out for a creative left sided player, do we know of any?
England were crying out for a creative left sided player, do we know of any? OSPREYSAINT
  • Score: 0

4:33pm Sat 16 Jun 12

long memory says...

Surprised the "Portsmouth News" have not claimed Theo as their own,because he drove into pompey 5 years ago to do a spot of shopping.
Surprised the "Portsmouth News" have not claimed Theo as their own,because he drove into pompey 5 years ago to do a spot of shopping. long memory
  • Score: 0

12:20pm Sun 17 Jun 12

dadofmy3sons says...

on skysports they are saying that Theo and RVP are likely to be sold.
Saints get in there with a bid for Theo and bring him home to regular football and hero acclaim.
Will also scare the bejabers out of a whole lot of teams.
on skysports they are saying that Theo and RVP are likely to be sold. Saints get in there with a bid for Theo and bring him home to regular football and hero acclaim. Will also scare the bejabers out of a whole lot of teams. dadofmy3sons
  • Score: 0

12:25pm Sun 17 Jun 12

george chivers says...

dadofmy3sons wrote:
on skysports they are saying that Theo and RVP are likely to be sold.
Saints get in there with a bid for Theo and bring him home to regular football and hero acclaim.
Will also scare the bejabers out of a whole lot of teams.
At £70,000 a week?
[quote][p][bold]dadofmy3sons[/bold] wrote: on skysports they are saying that Theo and RVP are likely to be sold. Saints get in there with a bid for Theo and bring him home to regular football and hero acclaim. Will also scare the bejabers out of a whole lot of teams.[/p][/quote]At £70,000 a week? george chivers
  • Score: 0

12:54pm Sun 17 Jun 12

Condor Man says...

It was funny listening to a load of Theo-hating journalists on Talk Sport yesterday having to eat humble pie. Just because a football doesn't act and sound like a thug doesn't mean they aren't a good player. It was Walcott that transformed that game and there'll be a host of clubs wanting to sign him. He's wasted at Arsenal.
It was funny listening to a load of Theo-hating journalists on Talk Sport yesterday having to eat humble pie. Just because a football doesn't act and sound like a thug doesn't mean they aren't a good player. It was Walcott that transformed that game and there'll be a host of clubs wanting to sign him. He's wasted at Arsenal. Condor Man
  • Score: 0

1:04pm Sun 17 Jun 12

dadofmy3sons says...

Why immediately assume that Theo would want £70k a week ? He might want to play football, and he might just fancy a game every week in front of an adoring stadium.
We might even be able to afford him.
I can dream !
Why immediately assume that Theo would want £70k a week ? He might want to play football, and he might just fancy a game every week in front of an adoring stadium. We might even be able to afford him. I can dream ! dadofmy3sons
  • Score: 0

5:59pm Sun 17 Jun 12

ladysaint says...

In two years time. Perhaps the headline will read. Southampton player Adam lallana scores winner in would cup final. Mmmmmm. That's if he's not too tired after a the season when saints win the champions league.
In two years time. Perhaps the headline will read. Southampton player Adam lallana scores winner in would cup final. Mmmmmm. That's if he's not too tired after a the season when saints win the champions league. ladysaint
  • Score: 0

6:00pm Sun 17 Jun 12

ladysaint says...

Oops meant world cup final.
Oops meant world cup final. ladysaint
  • Score: 0

10:48pm Sun 17 Jun 12

tinto44 says...

Yes, Theo would be an asset to Saints, but a seldom used one. We have already a host of 1st class strikers in the squad, and the flanks are covered reasonably well. I would like to see definite attempts to sign maybe 2 good defensive and midfield players, maybe 1 from "team 12"(?) in the Scottish Premier League, and one from an English Premier League now out of contract.
Money, it appears, is not a problem (although we have a great Chairman in NC) but let us not go into the footsteps of our near neighbours and overspend. We will probably finish around mid table in our first year back where we belong, then is the time to re-assess our needs to take us higher.
Top 6 ? Not just a dream now, we can do it, and the squad we have know that, and will get us there. We are still on the verge of great success, and NC and NA will keep us on our toes. Just think about the gates in excess of 30,000 this coming season for every home match.
Greatly excited, can't wait for the season to start.
Yes, Theo would be an asset to Saints, but a seldom used one. We have already a host of 1st class strikers in the squad, and the flanks are covered reasonably well. I would like to see definite attempts to sign maybe 2 good defensive and midfield players, maybe 1 from "team 12"(?) in the Scottish Premier League, and one from an English Premier League now out of contract. Money, it appears, is not a problem (although we have a great Chairman in NC) but let us not go into the footsteps of our near neighbours and overspend. We will probably finish around mid table in our first year back where we belong, then is the time to re-assess our needs to take us higher. Top 6 ? Not just a dream now, we can do it, and the squad we have know that, and will get us there. We are still on the verge of great success, and NC and NA will keep us on our toes. Just think about the gates in excess of 30,000 this coming season for every home match. Greatly excited, can't wait for the season to start. tinto44
  • Score: 0

11:05pm Sun 17 Jun 12

tinto44 says...

Hey...who do we go for as reserve keeper? I still like the way Green plays (and he is out of contract).
Shame he was dropped because of 2 bad matches. (didn't that happen to Robinson and Seaman (?))
Hey...who do we go for as reserve keeper? I still like the way Green plays (and he is out of contract). Shame he was dropped because of 2 bad matches. (didn't that happen to Robinson and Seaman (?)) tinto44
  • Score: 0

9:24am Mon 18 Jun 12

SFCOLDBOY says...

Theo made a great difference to England when he came on.
I believe Theo Walcot definitely needs more game time at both Arsenal and England.

From his football career point of view, it was a mistake that he was sold to Arsenal.
He has spent too much time on the bench.
He has, IMO has not improved since he has been there.
Nigel and his team would turn him into the best winger in the country.
COYR
Theo made a great difference to England when he came on. I believe Theo Walcot definitely needs more game time at both Arsenal and England. From his football career point of view, it was a mistake that he was sold to Arsenal. He has spent too much time on the bench. He has, IMO has not improved since he has been there. Nigel and his team would turn him into the best winger in the country. COYR SFCOLDBOY
  • Score: 0

9:26am Mon 18 Jun 12

Alicesdad says...

Walcott is injured and that doesn't look good. Hamstring problems are niggly injuries for someone as fast as Walcott. It's not just a question of can he play, but can he make the sprint impact that makes him so dangerous. I doubt he will play against Ukraine, Hodgson will hold him back as I think he will be essential for the later stages (if we get through).
Walcott is injured and that doesn't look good. Hamstring problems are niggly injuries for someone as fast as Walcott. It's not just a question of can he play, but can he make the sprint impact that makes him so dangerous. I doubt he will play against Ukraine, Hodgson will hold him back as I think he will be essential for the later stages (if we get through). Alicesdad
  • Score: 0

12:22am Tue 19 Jun 12

Tirau Dan says...

Well done Saints Academy few more in the squad and England might start to play the beautiful game at both ends. Lots to do in the middle though... I'd suggest England recruit a really good immigration expert.
Well done Saints Academy few more in the squad and England might start to play the beautiful game at both ends. Lots to do in the middle though... I'd suggest England recruit a really good immigration expert. Tirau Dan
  • Score: 0

7:33pm Tue 19 Jun 12

SaintCallum says...

Can anyone tell me the team for tonight? unfortunately im stuck at work!!
Can anyone tell me the team for tonight? unfortunately im stuck at work!! SaintCallum
  • Score: 0

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