England recorded a routine 3-0 victory over Lithuania to finish with a perfect record of 10 wins from 10 games in qualification for Euro 2006. England got off to a good start and dominated possession, although the ball ran away several times on the watered artificial surface. England had some chances, notably through Kane, but Arlauskis was equal to them. Barkley got the breakthrough in the 29th minute, when a 20 yard shot hit a defender and sent the ball out of the reach of Arlauskis, going in off the post. 6 minutes later, Kane found himself at a tight angle with few options so took a left footed shot that hit the post and went into the net off the back of Arlauskis. England continued to dominate possession throughout the second half and Oxlade-Chamberlain scored England’s third in the 62nd minute with a powerful effort into the roof of the net.
A qualifying record of 10 wins from 10 games is very impressive, but it was not the strongest group. It is true that England can only beat the teams that they are playing and they achieved most victories with the minimum of fuss. However, the group provided little indication of the progress, if any, England are making. England have friendlies against Spain and France lined up in November and they will surely provide a better assessment of England’s capabilities and weaknesses.
Hodgson picked a more experimental side against Lithuania to see if some players were up to international level. However, they were up against a limited Lithuanian side. If Hodgson wants to properly assess the claims of the squad for places in Euro 2016, he will need to give them chances in the upcoming friendlies against leading European nations; I hope Hodgson gives them the chance. Barkley and Lallana in particular played well against Estonia and Lithuania, but will need to be given chances to assess their claims for starting spots in the upcoming friendlies, which will surely be tougher games than the last two qualifying matches.