ENGLAND 0 – 2 Azerbaijan
Day 2 saw England take on Azerbaijan, in a race to enter the final day in poll position, as group leaders. Both teams went in to the game level on points, with England sat top of the group on goal difference. In a game of little chances, it soon became apparent that a mistake or stroke of luck was going to be the deciding factor between two teams, who cancelled each other out for large periods.
The first period saw no clear cut chances, only long range efforts from both keepers and free kicks which were struck wide. Azerbaijan had the game’s opening chance, which fortunately for England, was off target. However, England showed calmness playing across the back and utilized Humm in goal, who saw a number of his efforts just go wide of the post. A bit of attacking flare from Clarke in the latter stages of the period, resulted in a free kick, which he pulled wide. Temple tried to finish the period on a positive note for the Lions, after picking the ball up, driving at the Azerbaijan defense and shooting, but once again, England could not find the back of the net. Very little separated the two sides as they entered the second period all square at 0-0.
England pressed higher in the second period, giving the Azerbaijan goalkeeper less time to dictate play. Jackson was called into action early on, as the Azerbaijan number 11 peeled off his marker, with his resulting shot being saved. As England pushed for a goal, they were nearly caught on the counter by Azerbaijan but Clarke showed his experience, recovering well and regaining possession. It wasn’t until the closing stages of the 2nd period, that the deadlock was finally broken. The sand showed how cruel it can be, as a cross from the left hand side of England’s 9 meter, just bobbled under Jackson, allowing a tap in at the far post. A free kick in the closing stages for Morris, came close but not close enough and England went into the final period, trailing by 1 (0-1).
The third period saw Azerbaijan slow the game down, trying to hold on to their goal advantage. England battled well, to try and restore the deficit but a long throw caught the Lions off guard and a first time cross, was finished well but the Azerbaijan captain. Like the first period, Humm was allowed plenty of space and plenty of opportunities to shoot, but England were still unable to open their account, as the game seemed to be drifting away from them. Hope was restored when Day stepped up to take a free kick, slotting the ball past the Azerbaijan keeper, only for it to be disallowed, as the referee had blew his whistle due to an encroachment from an Azerbaijan player. The second free kick, flicked up off the sand and bobbled wide of the keeper. The game finished 2-0 to Azerbaijan as England seemed to have no luck in front of goal.
Despite defeat, England could still top the group , if the Czech Republic defeat Azerbaijan and England win their final group game. This would see England, Azerbaijan and Czech Republic all level on points, with goal difference becoming the deciding factor.
England’s final group game will be played at 8am, live on http://livestream.com/bsww/ebslsuperfinal2016