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Saturday, 12 October, 2002, 19:26 GMT 20:26 UK
Impressed with England?
Sven-Goran Eriksson will enjoy the win, but not the performance
England snatch a 2-1 win against unfancied Slovakia in their Euro 2004 qualifier in Bratislava.

Were you satisfied? Or are there reasons to worry?

This debate is now closed.

Michael Owen nodded in with six minutes to go to secure an unlikely win for England and silence a baying Slovakian crowd.

England were poor throughout and went in at the break 1-0 down thanks to a goal by Middlesbrough striker Szilard Nemeth.

But a David Beckham free-kick found the net after 65 minutes (although Owen may claim he got a touch) and the Liverpool striker poached the winner to earn England a vital win.

Can Sven-Goran Eriksson be happy with his night's work?

England supporters forget that Slovakia had to play on this pitch as well
Aleks B, Australia

Sure Ricki (USA), it's always English fans who cause trouble, isn't it? Even at France '98 when Moroccan and Tunisian fans were arrested at a ratio of around 40-1 compared with English fans.

There are no neo-nazis who support the likes of Germany and Italy are there? And you never get any Turkish fans carrying knives. And when was the last time you heard racial abuse from Slovakian, Polish or Albanian fans? Dream on, sunshine.
Andrew, NZ

I think that England were very lucky to win this match. People keep complaining about the pitch, but the England supporters keep forgetting that Slovakia had to play on this pitch as well.

England's first half was absolutely disgraceful. In the second half England started to show signs of a half decent team. I can not understand why England sat back and defended so long.
Aleks B, Australia

The strange thing about England is that on Wednesday they could play like gods, and the next week play like a Sunday league team. So inconsistent, just like the team selection.

We need a first team with players who play in the right positions, and gel well, the frequency of change means the team can't settle.
Chris, England

The team spirit during the second half was commendable
Jon Raxster, England

What a hard game this was to watch. How much harder to play. Slovakia fought hard and England showed true grit. I for one am really proud of the way the team battled on to win the game in very harsh conditions.

The team spirit during the second half was commendable and very encouraging. If we can win in these conditions when you have to play in a quagmire then the campaign could indeed be a great success! WELL DONE to the England team.
Jon Raxster, England

Let's not get too carried away. Why is it we English slate our team, win or lose? If we plan to be the best in the world we have to be ruthless and concentrate on the results - wins breed confidence and confidence breeds more confidence, and that will result in better performances.

Sure, we played bad, but can you imagine overall worse conditions (pitch, weather and crowd) to play in? And sure there are tactical issues to be resolved (central midfield needs to be two out of Butt, Gerrard and Scholes, and our left side should be Bridge behind Cole), but these are easily solvable.

Most of the successful teams (Italy and Germany especially) make a habit out of winning whilst playing badly. I'd rather England succeed with mediocre performances than lose whilst being entertaining. Just ask Man City and Newcastle fans!
James, England

What has Gary Neville ever done to deserve the honour of playing for his country?
Peter, UK

I am dismayed by the negativity show in most of these comments, it's typical really of the English press who write with their hearts and not their heads. England have a good team, and it's true they were lucky, but with a decent pitch and players in the right position I can see England comfortable qualifying from this group.
David Jones, England

England were pathetic. What has Gary Neville ever done to deserve the honour of playing for his country? I just cannot understand it - all he did during this game is give away possession by hoofing long, high balls over the top of midfield.

I've read that he is back in the England team because of his understanding on the pitch with Beckham. Is Beckham more important than the team? Is Beckham that important that we have to field a very ordinary player just because of their bond on the pitch?

And why play Scholes on the left of midfield? This failed against Argentina so why put him there again? I'm very puzzled by some of Sven's selection techniques!
Peter, UK

Typical FA response to English thugs rioting. It's always someone else's fault, in this case the police. The organized thuggery in English football is a disgrace and even after forty years of it our country's authorities STILL have their heads in the sand over the issue.
Ricki, USA

England got three points, that's all that matters in the end. As for the pitch, Slovakia were playing on it as well! England's problem was they sat back and defended too deep for too long. When they tried to pass and hold the ball they were the better team.
John, UK

It was embarrassing to watch
Ronnie, England

Any discussion about England by the English is always written as though the national team should be knocking spots off every team they play, home or away. Er, why? We're not that good and never were, so we should be chuffed when we get all the points off a handy outfit like Slovakia, especially on a pitch like a bog.
Ewen Atkinson, Thailand

Heskey worked hard, but dropped too deep and gave Owen no real support. Scholes was more effective when allowed ro roam the centre of the park rather then being stuck on the left.

Bring in Bridge to play on the left side, he has pace, strength and will give width and balance to the side. Also Smith for Heskey, he's just a far better partner for Owen.
Andy, England

It was embarrassing to watch. All the players were diving in with awful tackles, both goals were lucky and the midfield were shocking. When was the last time England played any good football?
Ronnie, England

We got out of jail. Beckham should have been sent off, Gerrard had a stinker, Southgate and Woodgate looked flimsy, Seaman looked dodgy, Cole and Heskey were abused, the pitch looked as if it had just been ploughed, and we get the three points!!! How does that work?
Chris, England

England were very poor and very unbalanced. At times it was like watching junior school children play football, as all of their players bunched together on the right side of the field.

People always say the sign of a good team is one that wins undeservedly, so there is some comfort there!
Martyn, England

They lacked creativity. None of their players could take the ball past their opponents (except Hargreaves).Defensively they were unable to stop their opponents going past them. They were temperamentally very poor - Scholes, Butt, Beckham and Gerrard were all petulant (violent in Beckham's case) and could all have been sent off. All they had to offer was effort and considerable luck.

When Owen tried to use his left foot to kick the ball, he practically fell over. Heskey is cumbersome, slow and ineffective. Seaman is too old and too slow, as he showed by allowing the ball to go through his legs.

I'm looking forward to the games against Turkey. They will be very interesting. By now I'm sure that Eriksson hopes that Ulrika's revelations will cause him to resign, and he will then be able take charge of a team with sufficient ability to do his talents justice.
Phil Hexter, Wales

England were simply terrible in the first half. Woodgate and Southgate never looked comfortable as a pairing and Scholes was non existent on the left of midfield. Unsurprisingly, Eriksson's team selection was poor to say the least, and again England resorted to "route one" football as the midfield creativity was non existent.

They were better in the second half when Scholes moved into the centre. In slightly mitigating circumstances, the pitch was a disgrace. I can't remember the last time I saw a pitch that bad for an international match. But, we won. People always say the sign of a good team is one that wins undeservedly, so there is some comfort there!
Martyn, England

Heskey was the man of the match
Anon, Belgium

Well done Emile Heskey - he put in a great performance, despite the disgraceful chants.
Mark, England

Sven can be happy with the result, but he can't be happy with the performance.

I just hope he stops and thinks the next time he watches Joe Cole winning a match for another team, ditto for Macca at Real Madrid. Butt and Southgate judging by their performances could be of more use on the bench or anywhere apart from the pitch.
Sephalino, Italy Rome

Heskey was the man of the match. He worked hard and effectively set up the second goal. And there was excellent marksmanship as usual from Owen. Overall Sven and all England fans should take heart from their fine comeback.
Anon, Belgium

We played much better football and stop complaining about the pitch; we had to play on it as well!
Khiltem, Slovakia

oo many lacklustre performances - this is becoming an Eriksson trade mark
Chris Oxford, Dubai

England have got to learn to keep possession and stop hoisting the ball 50 yards. The key offender is Neville who had an awful game. Heskey was easily England's man of the match.

At the end of the day the result was the all important thing and if England can play as below par as this and still get a win in difficult conditions then this must provide some optimism for the future.
Malcolm Leng, England

Why, oh why, does Sven constantly put out-of-position players onto the left wing? Nobody plays well there when out of position. I'd rather see a "weaker" player that is an expert in this position, play there, than a great central midfielder or striker play extremely poorly.
Steve, Germany

No wonder Sven looked bemused. He clearly could not believe how inept the England players were. They could not control the ball, keep possession, or create chances - their goals were typical of their style - relying on a combination of hopeful punts, mistakes and good fortune. The FA should sack the team, not Eriksson.
Phil Hexter, Wales

Sure the pitch was awful, but that cannot hide the fact that it was another boring, tedious display. Too many lacklustre performances - this is becoming an Eriksson trade mark. When are we going to see 90 minutes of decent football Sven?

Three points are three points whichever way you look at it!
Tim Ferreira, Venezuela

Gerard played his worst England game. Who was supposed to be playing on the left? Ashley Cole pushed forward too much and was constantly caught out of position. Heskey did his usual `headless chicken` routine and is not worthy of wearing an England shirt. Despite his goal(s) I thought Owen was terrible.

The passing was woeful; Scholes and Gerrard in particular. England still haven't mastered the art of maintaining possession at the highest level. The left hand side needs to be addressed; surely Eriksson has had long enough to work it out by now.
Chris Oxford, Dubai

Three points are three points whichever way you look at it!
Tim Ferreira, Venezuela

Absolute rubbish. There will be the usual excuses like the pitch and picking a team for the job but it was a pathetic performance. Things seem to be getting worse for England.

No imagination, lack of passion and a team consisting mainly of highly paid non performers. Heskey commits fraud everytime he collects his wage packet and the Man Utd midfield were out of their depth.

There's so much talent in the Premiership but so little effort shown when wearing the three lions. I imagine Turkey are looking forward to bagging their six points against us.
Ade Lenton, England

The first half display of football makes you think, how long can we go like this?
Gagan gulati, UK

Many other sides will play in Slovakia and drop points (Turkey take note). Sven should be judged on his ability as a manager and as such he is one of the best we've ever had. As for the book should we really make some cheap five minute wonder rich for the sake of it? No way! Do NOT Buy the BOOK.....
Sara Gray, England

The only player who came out with any credit is Emile Heskey; and how often do you get the chance to say that?
Stuart, England

The first half display of football makes you think, how long can we go like this? Though Owen saved us from what could be an embarrassing end, but we surely would need more from the boys, or we had better scale down our hopes!
Gagan gulati, UK

Please don't talk about "an improved second-half performance": we were marginally less dreadful, that's all.
Alan Wilkinson, UK

The pitch was a disgrace but what hard work we made of it
IRC, Qatar

It wasn't great, but they won. In the end that's all that matters.
Andrew Melville, Canada

It's the result that matters I guess. BUT the manner of it for me was poor. They scraped and battled but, hey, they weren't exactly playing Italy or Spain.

Svens tactics are poor, Scholes' first half was invisible and the rest of the midfield were outplayed by what many considered second rate players. As for the pitch, both teams had to play on it, didn't they? Beckham was extemely lucky to be on the pitch.
Allan, England

The pitch was a disgrace but what hard work we made of it. How many chances is Cole going to be given? After losing his man for the Slovakian goal he started the second half better only to commit another major gaffe which nearly let Slovakia take the lead for the second time.

It will be interesting to see if Owen claims the first goal as I am not convinced he got a touch. Bring on Macedonia, but can we have the first team this time please?
IRC, Qatar

You can be the greatest team in the world, but on a pitch like that, it counts for nothing! Although the performance was poor, well done England for grinding out a great result!
Anthony, England

You were very lucky to beat our team. Good luck
Martin, Slovakia

I thought the performace of the boys was very sub-standard, and you must question the midfield for the amount of times they lost possession of the ball.
John Berry, England

You were very lucky to beat our team. Good luck!
Martin, Slovakia

Yes, he can be happy because the side won, against the odds. Although the performance was rather questionable, they kept their heads high and came back, albeit by a narrow margin by anybody's standards. What else can you say.
Gavin, England

England won with a gutsy performance. Why are the BBC panel looking and sounding like they are going to a funeral. Is it the BBC's anti Englishness once again?
Mike Artmstrong, England

The long ball rules for England again! When will we learn this is not the way to win matches. When England passed the ball they looked the better side. A very lucky result.
Tom Stuart, England

England have mastered the art of defending deeply. It worked against Argentina, when we let them come onto us for virtually the entire game. In the first half against Slovakia, Emile Heskey stood on the halfway line looking bemused.

All criticisms for this mediocre England performance should go to Sven
Nuvin Balloo, Mauritius

Second half, we looked better, scored the equaliser and then sat back again and looked vulnerable. Owen scored again, Heskey had his best match I can remember for England and we nearly conceded yet again in the last five minutes. Once again we decided to sit back. Against a better side, we would have been take apart tonight in the first half. That said, this is a wonderful scoreline, considering the performance.
Russ Allen, England

All criticisms for this mediocre England performance should go to Sven. He ignored creative players like Bowyer and Cole, continues to stick with the ageing Seaman, refused to put up the Ehiogu-Southgate partnership, and let the fiery Smith on the bench.

Some lessons have to be learnt. But, some good excuses for today's dull match can be laid upon the poor state of the pitch and the absence of Sol and Rio. All this confirms that, if England are to challenge for any major honours, ALL its world-class players must be fit!
Nuvin Balloo, Mauritius

Has Gerrard ever played as badly? What has happened to Beckham as a captain? Can Gary Neville hit any other ball aside from a long one? Scholes and Butt had as Peter Reid said "one of those games", although Scholes did make an effort.

Owen did what was required, Heskey was OK despite all the monkey noises directed at him and Ashley Cole (incidentally by far and away England's best player). Eriksson did a "Brazil" and looked bemused on the bench. Lucky England
William, England

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