Frank Lampard praised the way England executed their game plan to perfection as they moved top of UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group G with a 2-0 victory away against Wales, registering twice inside the first quarter of an hour to prevent their hosts building up a head of steam.
The Chelsea FC midfielder got his side going with a seventh-minute penalty as England returned to Cardiff for the first time since a FIFA World Cup qualifying success in 2005. "Some of us played in this game a few years ago and it was a hard day all round," said Lampard. "The idea [today] was to start well, press them high up the field and it worked.
"It looked like they couldn't get out of their own half for long periods and it was a very professional performance. These games are always going to be tough. Everybody expects us to come here and roll over Wales, but you are talking about a big derby, and when you feel the atmosphere before the start you know it's not going to be easy.
"But we won it early on and made what could have been a very difficult game quite comfortable. I felt confident with the penalty and I was just pleased to get us off to a good start. Then we scored a great team goal for the second."
Darren Bent finished off a move which Glen Johnson launched in his own half with a pinpoint long ball, and it brought the Aston Villa FC striker his third goal in successive internationals. "I didn't know if I was going to start because there are a lot of good strikers in the squad, but Fabio Capello showed faith in me and I was delighted to get a goal and help the team to a win," said Bent.
It proved a miserable afternoon for new Wales manager Gary Speed as his team slumped to their fourth successive defeat in the group, and they never managed to give their supporters anything to cheer about after such a demoralising first 15 minutes.
"It was a nightmare start for us and we were on the back foot straight away," said Steve Morison, who had a lonely time as a solo striker struggling to get the better of John Terry and Michael Dawson. "We conceded the penalty and then gave a sloppy second goal away but we built up a little bit of momentum at the end of the first half and after the break we gave a decent performance. We have to build on that now in our next game."
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