England are on track to continue their 100% European Qualifying record as they lead Lithuania 2-0 at half time at Wembley.
The Three Lions went ahead through striker Wayne Rooney after just six minutes, the Manchester United player striking the post moments earlier. Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck then dived to head in England’s second.
Manager Roy Hodgson included Chelsea defender Gary Cahill in the starting line-up, but there was no place for Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane, who will have to wait for his first senior international start. Fabian Delph, Michael Carrick and Nathaniel Clyne were also included in the starting XI.
England, who sat top of the table in Group E at the start of play after five wins in five, went into the match with confidence against a Lithuania side who sat in fourth with a disappointing six points. And the difference in quality showed early on as Delph won possession in the opposition half and played in Rooney, who, one-on-one with the keeper, managed to shoot against the post.
However, Rooney didn’t have to wait long to score, grabbing the first of the night after just six minutes. Some good work by Welbeck led to his shot being saved, and the rebound kindly came to Rooney, who headed into an empty net past the despairing hand of Lithuania keeper Giedrius Arlauskis.
Despite taking an early lead, England couldn’t capitalise, although Rooney hit the crossbar. Lithuania, who worked hard and were organised in the first half, settled into the game and the home team had Phil Jones to thank after his tackle stopped Deivydas Matulevicius from turning in a pinpoint cross.
However, England soon started to retake control and after Leighton Baines missed a good opportunity, Welbeck may have scored the goal which made the game safe. Jordan Henderson collected a short corner, and his accurate low cross was met by the diving head of the Arsenal striker. His header took an unlucky deflection off the Lithuania captain Tadas Kijanskas, but Welbeck will claim his sixth goal in five European qualifiers – the best goalscoring record in the competition.