England 5 – Croatia 1

Less than 2 years ago Steve McClaren was the over paid amateur in charge of steering England through to the European Championships 2008, needing just a single point from their last group match against Croatia. Of course, he ballsed it up - England lost 3-2 in a wet drenched evening at Wembley. 2 years on and yesterday there was a sense of déjà (revenge?); Croatia again, at Wembley with England needing just one point to guarantee a place in the World Cup in South Africa next year. But how last night was so different.

Yes, England could have popped their credit card details onto easyjet.com (“33 economy seats to Johannesburg please”) with a draw, but instead John Terry et al crushed the Croats in emphatic style winning 5-1.

2 goals for Frank Lampard & Steven Gerrard a piece (who said they couldn’t play together?) in what was a completely one-sided affair which quickly became a case of 'how many' not 'if'. Wayne Rooney made it 5 and a cheeky consolation goal from the Croats later led to manager Fabio Capello justifiably calling the performance England’s 'best yet' under him.

England have now won 8 out of 8 of their 10 qualifying games to join fellow qualifiers; Holland, South & North Korea, Australia, Japan, Spain and Sweden on that flight. And with Argentina and Portugal in serious doubt of making it to South Africa in 2010, could all those years of hurt finally be over?

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