Robson strikes in each half to deny Yugoslavia the draw they had come for
Wed. 13 Dec 1989
Wembley Stadium, London
Ref.: Dieter Pauly (FRG)
England and Yugoslavia would come head to head in what was both countries’ final international of the decade. They were both qualified for next year’s World Cup, and preparations were already well under way. Neither had suffered defeat during their respective qualification campaigns, and they had both drawn 0-0 against illustrious opposition the previous month: England against Italy, Yugoslavia in Brazil. The English had played ten and not yet lost (five wins) during 1989, wheras the Yugoslavians had only tasted defeat once from their ten matches over the course of the calendar year. Perhaps was it fair to say that they were both among the outsiders for next year’s main event.
England team news
There were a few omissions in the English side on this occasion, as four players who had started the match against the Italians were either not in the starting line-up or in the matchday squad at all: right-back Stevens, midfielder McMahon, winger Barnes and forward Beardsley. Into the side came QPR’s versatile defender Parker, Arsenal duo Rocastle and Thomas, as well as big striker Bull from second division club Wolves. It was quite a rarity that an England selectee originated from a club outside of the top division, but Bull had been in such goal scoring form for several seasons now that there clearly had to be something special about him. He had even notched a goal on his debut in the 2-0 win away to old foe Scotland in May, and then also appeared as a second half substitute during the 1-1 friendly in Copenhagen in June. Oddly, he’d only scored once at club level in the last two months, but had missed a few league matches during that time.
Parker, filling in for Stevens at full-back, with Robson’s first choice found among the substitutes, made his fourth appearance, whilst Thomas had won his debut in the friendly away to Saudi Arabia last year. This was his only second international. A somewhat different kind of player to the one whom he had replaced, McMahon, manager Robson surely must have been keen to find out how Thomas would fare alongside England skipper Robson. With yet another player from league leaders and reigning champions Arsenal in the starting eleven in Rocastle, it meant a switch from right to left for Waddle, who had enjoyed such a fine game against Italy.
There had been an appearance among the substitutes for experienced centre-half Wright against the Italians, but he did not seem to be there on this occasion. However, we do not know which other players were available to Bobby Robson this evening apart from the five players who appeared during the second half. With Arsenal ‘keeper Seaman still not back in the Gunners side at this time, Robson stuck with Chelsea goalie Beasant as Shilton’s understudy. For whatever reason, Winterburn, yet another Arsenal player, had been ditched since the last match, and left-back alternative this time around was another Chelsea player in Dorigo, Australia born. Platt, who had won his first cap coming on against Italy, was there again, alongside midfielders McMahon and Hodge.
No space in the matchday squad (limited to just 16 this time around?) for Phelan, though, who had had an acceptable debut last time around.
Yugoslavia team news
Manager Osim had used 34 players during his previous ten matches in 1989, and he would introduce yet another one for the final match before the dawn of a new decade: midfielder Savevski. He had been playing abroad in Greece for about a year and a half, and had made his international debut in the 2-0 friendly win away to Switzerland in August last year. This was his only second cap.
Since the 0-0 draw in Brazil, only six starters remained. Osim had been deploying rather negative tactics in South America, having his team set up in a 5-4-1 formation, and this would indeed be the case again formation wise. On that occasion, it had been the usually agile Savićević in the lone forward role, whereas this task had gone to a more static Mihajlović this time around. He was currently plying his trade with West German giants Bayern Munich, though goals had seemed hard for him to come by. He had netted during Bayern’s 3-1 win in Homburg the previous weekend, but this was only his second of the league season until then. He would get two more before the end of 1989/90.
The Yugoslavian backline almost resembled the one which had been in use in João Pessoa, only with young centre-half Panadić giving way for the more experienced Vulić. Libero was yet again the seasoned Hadžibegić, though on this occasion he had had to hand the captaincy over to the team’s most senior player: midfield man Sušić. In the midfield quartet, said captain was operating alongside Stojković in the centre, whilst Savevski was behind them, and Škoro just ahead of them in something of a diamond shape. The two full-backs had probably meant to lend their support, and so offering some substance to the 3-6-1 interpretation which I had made of their formation during the 2-1 friendly win in Spain just over a year earlier. However, neither Stanojković nor Brnović would be too severely engaged inside the opposition’s half.
Once again, there were some hefty omissions from their squad: Jozić, Katanec, Baždarević, Janković, Pančev, Savićević, the Vujović twins and Jakovljević were all solid names missing, as well as up and coming players such as Boban and Mijatović, and even younger Brnović brother Branko. One was starting to realize just what a selection headache lay before Osim when it was time to decide who would travel to Italy.
World Cup groups known
The World Cup draw had recently been made. Whilst England had been placed in a tight looking group with European Champions Netherlands, fellow British Isles representant Republic of Ireland and a fairly strong Egyptian select, the Yugoslavians would be pitting themselves against the mighty West Germans, Colombia and United Arab Emirates.
England and Yugoslavia had crossed paths in the qualification for the 1988 European Championships, and though the latter had a reasonably good side already then, they still stood no chance in the two clashes with the English, who had triumphed 2-0 at Wembley and then massively thumped tonight’s visitors 4-1 in Belgrade. Three Lions had scored four times with no reply during a scintillating first half, and they would easily qualify from their group. Only Hadžibegić and Stojković remained for Yugoslavia since that game, whereas four players who had started for the visitors at Stadion Crvene Zvezde were in the opening eleven once again in Shilton, Butcher, Robson and Lineker. Stevens, Beardsley and Barnes would probably have been starters too, but for whatever reasons they had not been selected, whilst Webb was in the middle of a recovery process since rupturing his achilles tendon in the 0-0 draw in Sweden.
This was the 14th meeting between the two since their inaugural encounter in Belgrade just before the outbreak of The Second World War. The record read four wins for each, with five matches having ended in draw. For Yugoslavia, surely the 5-0 in Belgrade in 1958, in preparation for the World Cup in Sweden, stood out. Current Sampdoria manager Vujadin Boškov had featured in that fixture.
Experienced West German referee Dieter Pauly would make his twelvth and final international with this Wembley appearance. He had had his games spread across a span of seven years, and had been a frequently used official during 1989, as this was the 47 year old’s fourth international fixture of the calendar year. He had been in charge of the Netherlands v Soviet Union group stage fixture during the 1988 European Championships, and also featured twice in the recent qualifiers, having officiated in Spain’s 2-0 win in Northern Ireland and during the Soviet Union’s 2-0 home win against Turkey. This was Mr Pauly’s first appearance at Wembley, and his first encounter with Yugoslavia.
|1 Peter Shilton
|2 Paul Parker
|3 Stuart Pearce
|25′, sub h-t
|4 Michael Thomas
|5 Des Walker
|6 Terry Butcher
|7 Bryan Robson (c)
|8 David Rocastle
|9 Steve Bull
|10 Gary Lineker
|11 Chris Waddle
|12 David Platt
|13 Dave Beasant
|14 Tony Dorigo
|15 Steve Hodge
|16 Gary Stevens
|17 Steve McMahon
|18 Peter Beardsley
|19 Mike Phelan
|1 Tomislav Ivković
|2 Vujadin Stanojković
|3 Predrag Spasić
|4 Dragoljub Brnović
|5 Faruk Hadžibegić
|6 Zoran Vulić
|7 Haris Škoro
|8 Safet Sušić (c)
|9 Radmilo Mihajlović
|10 Dragan Stojković
|11 Toni Savevski
|12 Fahrudin Omerović
|13 Andrej Panadić
|14 Robert Prosinečki
|15 Gordan Petrić
|16 Davor Šuker
By the end:
Spasić had briefly held the left-back position after Brnović’ exit, but he would be replaced through injury by Petrić late on, with both these central defenders getting each their spell at full-back.
Come kick-off time, and it was evident that Wembley would be far from packed. There were, as had become customary by now, a lot of available seats scattered around the vast stadium. Italy had managed to lure almost 70 000 out of the comfort of their homes the previous month, but the figure on this occasion would prove to be around half of that. England and Yugoslavia, though, were only concerned to take their respective World Cup preparations one step further. England would get the show rolling through their forward duo of Bull and Lineker.
England had begun the Italy friendly very passively indeed, and they had almost not kept hold of the ball at all inside the opening five minutes on that occasion. Yugoslavia had been happy to concede possession for most of the match in Brazil in their last outing, so what kind of tactics would manager Osim display this time around? They certainly had the ability to mix it up a bit, and could they take the game to their illustrious opponents tonight?
The audience will not have to wait long for a reply. Two of the players who had been brought into the side for the occasion, Rocastle and Parker, had early touches, and it was the latter’s ball forward into the channel for Lineker to chase which brought about the first set-piece of the evening. Agile QPR defender Parker was operating at right-back in place of Stevens tonight, and among Parker’s assets were his decision making and his precise passing. As Lineker came into the right handed channel to pick the ball up, he was fouled from behind by moustached defender Vulić. These two would continue to be a tandem throughout. The early foul gave the hosts an opportunity to swing a kick into the penalty area, and it would be Waddle delievering with his left foot. It is difficult to say what happened next from a Yugoslavian point of view when refering to the absent marking. You only leave a quality player like Robson unmarked at your peril.
The England skipper rose to meet Waddle’s delievery behind the back of Stanojković, and goalkeeper Ivković had to pick the ball out of the net as his first touch of the evening. It had been a mere 37 seconds since kick-off, but it had not even been Robson’s quickest ever headed goal for England. The group stage match against France during the 1982 World Cup will be fondly remembered by many an Englishman as the same player had scored after only 27 seconds back then.
Determined hosts The English have a very determined look about them: They have serious intentions on controlling the game, and lifted by the sensationally early goal, they were playing with their tails up. Yugoslavia, however, were a team you should never underestimate given the number of talented players appearing. Under Osim they were also beginning to gel as a unit, something which their World Cup qualification had shown. Now, they would need their big players to step up and lead the way as they would have to begin looking for a way back into the match. However, Stojković does give a couple of early indications that perhaps he’s not mentally in the right frame: When bundled off the ball by Robson and then given a shove, he stops in his track and appears to sulk at the lack of action from the referee. The Red Star playmaker will need to do a whole lot better than this if he wants to help his team escape being dominated by the hosts.
Home tactics England’s formation was the traditional 4-4-2, though there did appear to have been a tweak this time around. Usually, they would operate with a player just behind the striker, and when Beardsley was the one accompanying Lineker, it would be him in the ‘hole’. However, there was no Beardsley on this occasion, as manager Robson had decided to give burly Wolves centre-forward Bull an opportunity against top international opposition. Bull was playing in line with Lineker, and so the home side had two strikers giving chase to the visiting defenders whenever they would attempt to build from the back.
In midfield, Thomas had come in to perform alongside skipper Robson in the centre. This was a player not foreign to making darting runs into the opposition’s penalty area, but with a similar kind of player alongside him, it did appear early doors that Thomas would have to make do with a more holding role. With Rocastle reinstalled as Barnes was absent, it had meant a switch from right to left for Waddle, who had shown a lot of quality against the Italians. The now Marseille winger seemed to be at the peak of his career, thoroughly enjoying his football, and he revelled in the more free role that manager Robson had given him. Even if Waddle’s original position was to the right in midfield, he would certainly not be tied to this position alone: Roaming seemed to be the long-haired, skillful winger’s preference. Down the opposite flank, Rocastle was much more conventional, typically sticking to his position.
Yugoslavia would win a free-kick in a sound position with just under five minutes gone. The home players protested against referee Pauly’s decision, as Butcher’s tackle on visiting captain Sušić had seemed correct. It had been enough to get the experienced PSG campaigner somewhat agitated, and so it did seem that the English’ tactics of unsettling the Yugoslavians’ bigger players were successful so far. However, this would present Yugoslavia with their first attempt to strike at goal, and you would expect an expert taker such as Stojković to provide a threat from this kind of distance, some 25 yards out, a little to the right of Shilton’s goal. The free-kick goes disappointingly into the defensive wall and ricochets back out for big defender Spasić to have a go from the follow-up, but his effort is high and wide. There’s no quick riposte from the away side.
In Brazil, Yugoslavia had adopted fairly negative tactics, putting a lot of men behind the ball at every opportunity, and relying on the counter. They had been second best for most of that game, though they had rarely been breached defensively. Again, they were with the elegant Hadžibegić as libero, and again they were operating with a pair of man markers in central defenders Spasić and Vulić: The latter would look after Lineker, whilst the rugged Spasić would try to keep Bull quiet. The visitors’ formation resembled very much the 5-4-1 which they had used in João Pessoa the previous month. The two wide players, Stanojković on the right and D Brnović along the left, were initially sitting deep, and so they featured as full-backs rather than wing-backs. It was common knowledge, though, that particularly Stanojković enjoyed getting forward, as he had also shown in Brazil.
Yugoslavia’s midfield counted four men, though whilst they had played quiet conventionally with a square midfield last time around, they were now appearing in something akin to a diamond shape, where the left-footed Savevski was sitting at the back of the quartet. Savevski, making only his second international appearance, was far from your typical savage anchor man; he was much more a raffined playmaking kind of player. However, he dutifully went about his task in doing his utmost to shield the central defenders, and quickly releasing the ball for the two stars in the centre just ahead of him in Sušić and Stojković when in possession. At the helm of the midfield four sat the lively Škoro, a feature for Serie A club Torino. Škoro was a quick, nimble player, definitely capable of taking a man on and beating him ball at feet. He would do what he could to assist lone striker Mihajlović, a striker perhaps not as mobile as you could’ve wished from a sole centre-forward, but who would nevertheless give chase when the opposition was in control of the ball.
Against Italy, England had had a great number of corner kicks, and though they had ultimately failed to make any of them count, they had brought a sound level of pressure on the opposing defence. When the hosts are presented with their first flag kick of the evening, something which comes about when Stanojković is way too lenient in the pressure of Pearce as the latter demonstrates his intent to swing the ball into the penalty area, and after Pearce’ cross, a lapse in concentration from Hadžibegić wins England the corner. From it, big defender Butcher will finish with the outside (!) of his left foot from almost the left edge of the six yard box, though his effort goes wide right of the post. Ivković was down on his knees already, and would’ve stood little chance of saving had Butcher hit target.
There’s decent pace to the game. The home side wish to employ their strikers and work the channels, and it always appears that when Lineker makes a hefty number of runs wide of centre, he is on song. He seems more lively early on than his strike partner, who is more stationary. Lineker does take a couple of early knocks courtesy of Vulić, but his desire to keep moving never ceases. Yugoslavia, on the other hand, have a less wish to be direct, and instead they try to work their way forward through interpassing in the centre of the pitch. So far, this territory has belonged to the hosts, but Stojković seems to finally want to participate, seeking space to take advantage of his delightful passing skills. When in possession and not immediately surrounded, he searches out Stanojković down the right with some quality balls. The full-back’s crossing does leave a bit to be desired, though, and so there’s not much threat against the English defence when dealing with balls into the centre.
An English through ball sees Ivković race out from his goal and handle the ball just outside the box. This brings about another home set-piece, and it will also result in the first booking of the match when Savevski is reluctant to retreat the necessary ten yards. Again Waddle would swing a ball into the centre, though this time from the opposite side of the penalty area compared to the one which had lead to the early goal, and he would fail to replicate the quality delievery as the goalkeeper would make a confident catch on this occasion.
Almost out of the blue, the visitors go level as Škoro strikes on 18 minutes. Ivković had saved a close range Bull effort with his feet after an England right wing corner down the other end, before the hosts had switched off when Yugoslavia decided to break with pace. Škoro takes a short Sušić pass just inside the English half, and when he sets pace with the ball at his feet, no home player approaches him to close him down. The Torino man is allowed to run freely until 22 yards, when he opts to strike with his left foot. The shot is perfectly placed to the left of Shilton and just inside the post, and the visitors have equalized. The England boss would’ve been fuming for how they had dozed off, though, allowing Yugoslavia so much time and space. From an England point of view, it was a soft goal to give away. For the visitors, it would’ve been a great satisfaction to draw level.
By the time the opening period reaches its halfway stage, the visitors are seeing more of the ball than they had been doing prior to the leveller. They are more confident; their midfielders finally dare to hold on to the ball. Sušić is using his guile to find space between Robson and Thomas, and Stojković has a greater range of movement than earlier in the game. It is not as if they are putting the home defence under severe pressure, but they have pushed their defence higher in the pitch, and they are playing with more freedom. All four among their midfield quartet are players highly capable of keeping on to the ball even in tight positions, but with England well organised, Yugoslavia do struggle to create openings in front of Shilton. Stojković tries to take matters in his own hand when electing to shoot from 25 yards, though it is a tame effort which poses no kind of threat to the experienced stopper whatsoever.
For the home side, both central defenders, Walker and Butcher, are playing resolutely, not giving Mihajlović much room for manoeuvre, and full-backs Parker and Pearce are doing likewise. They are not willing to give an inch. Pearce is at times faced with an attack-minded Stanojković, but Parker is less bothered by Brnović, who is reluctant in coming forward. The same Parker keeps displaying a fine range of passes, often searching players (predominantly Lineker) in the channels with quick balls into space. He is good at spotting runs, and Parker plays in a way which demonstrates such ease of performing. He is having a fine game. Lineker is still the less static England striker, but Vulić is unwilling to allow the Tottenham forward much space. The two have a good few tussles throughout. Bull is perhaps feeling the step up from the second tier in English football, as he is rarely able to shake off his marker Spasić.
There’s a second booking of the match on 25 minutes, when Pearce decides to prevent Stojković from trying any showboating along the right hand touchline. The full-back comes late into the challenge as Stojković has already released the ball, and he catches the Yugoslavia playmaker’s left foot and sends him into a spin. You’ll hardly see a more deserved booking. The visitors’ number 10 needs some treatment and words of encouragement from the physiotherapist, probably having had some pride knocked out of him as well.
There is not a great deal happening apart from in midfield, but on 33 minutes, Waddle has picked the ball up from Butcher inside his own half, just south of the centre circle. With no opponent anywhere near, Waddle has a lot of time to pick his option, and he decides to try and play it long in behind the Yugoslavian defence. His target is Bull, who appears to have finally shaken off Spasić, who failed to reach the wonderfully precise 55 yard pass with his head. As the striker had to recover the ball from crossing the byline, he did not manage to keep his cross in play, and so the ball went out for a goal kick. Waddle’s delightful pass, however, was one of the highlights of the match so far.
In the home side’s midfield, Robson is having a confident display, making a nuisance of himself, and also contributing with some fine runs from the deep. He was so far outshining his central midfield colleague Thomas, who was being more anonymous, and only about a minute after Waddle’s long range pass, Robson would work himself into a shooting position. He picked up the ball after Lineker had been sent tumbling after a challenge by Hadžibegić, and the 32 year old Manchester United ace really ought to have at least hit the target from 18 yards. However, his low shot went disappointingly a yard and a half wide to the left of Ivković’ goal.
Coming up to half time
The latter stages of the first half see Mihajlović have the ball in the back of the net, but he had well before finishing been waved off, and a few moments earlier the same player had been unmarked when Stojković had put the ball over from the right hand side. However, Mihajlović failed to connect very well with the looping cross, not getting any conviction behind his headed effort, which he had tried to arch over Shilton. He would also see a third effort headed wide from Stanojković’ cross, as he finally demonstrated an ability to get away from the England central defenders. The hosts, on the other hand, have a tame effort half volleyed wide through Lineker, and when Mr Pauly blew his whistle one last time during the first half, the clock showed 46,27 and the scoreboard one apiece. It was a fit scoreline for an even contest so far, with the visitors growing back into it once they regained their confidence after the early goal blow.
After a relatively even first half, and with this being a friendly, it would’ve been anticipated that one or both sides would make some half time altercations. As it turned out, it was only from the hosts that there had been changes in personnel, with Shilton, precisely like in their outing versus Italy last month, leaving his post to let big Beasant from Chelsea take over. Against the Italians, left-back Pearce had been replaced by debutant Winterburn halfway through the second period, whereas the Nottingham man here remained in the dressing room with the teams reappearing for the second half. Pearce’ replacement on this occasion was another debutant in Australia born Dorigo. Kick-off was left for Škoro and Mihajlović to deal with for the away team.
The first phase of the second half is an unimaginative one. Neither side is willing to risk much, and in particular the visitors are sitting back, holding tight on to what they’ve got already. There is a familiar pattern as to what they had displayed during the goalless draw in Brazil, and though you can not fault any team to try and achieve a share of the spoils in Brazil or in England, you are still left with the feeling that this Yugoslavian team had potential to inflict more damage. Perhaps did Osim feel that they were missing vital players, but nevertheless were they over cautious in their approach. It was a relief when Hadžibegić on two occasions inside the opening ten minutes of the second period decided to advance across the halfway line, even if neither approach was eventually successful as he was stopped in his tracks by the home players.
There was not a great deal of movement attack wise for the visitors, although it did not seem to be for a lack of want from striker Mihajlović, who both lead the line and at times wished to come deep. Škoro, the link-up player behind him, was perhaps Yugoslavia’s most enterprising individual inside the English half, and he did arrive at an opportunity three and a half minute in, as he was returned the ball by Mihajlović to proceed into the area before firing a low left-footed shot into the side netting with Walker in close attention. It had been a scare for the hosts, who would continue to be dominant in possession.
Perhaps was Yugoslavia’s central midfield what was letting them down the most. There were greatly gifted players in skipper Sušić and playmaker Stojković there, but they found it difficult to enjoy much in terms of possession against tenacious opponents such as Thomas and Robson, and also Rocastle, who would do a decent job off the ball. Savevski, the defensive one in the quartet, did seem to have the ability to hold on to the ball in tight situations and also find a man with a forward pass, but instructions appeared to mute him; he was perhaps not allowed to take advantage of his creativity. Stojković had been on the receiving end of a couple of physical first half challenges, and he had not always seemed best pleased. He would also carry the ball too much, and so take the pace out of any counters which could’ve materialized. Sušić had had his moments, but he was not a dominant force.
Right sided defender Stanojković was enjoying a decent game, and he was a willing customer coming forward, still more so than his counterpart down the other flank: Brnović was rarely engaged inside the England half. The two man markers in the heart of their defence stuck dutifully to the home strikers, and so neither Spasić nor Vulić were of much use when the away team were on the ball. The latter did not look particularly fearsome, but he had so far kept Lineker quiet, even if the home striker had done his best to stretch the visitors’ defence in making runs into the channels. Spasić had until now managed well, but then again his opponent did perhaps look slightly out of place at this level.
England seem to have fine alternatives for the left back berth behind Pearce, as Dorigo did not appear to be much of a backwards step since coming on at half time. He wanted to patrol the left, eager in making runs high up in the pitch, though it was not a particular feature of their game to involve him a great deal. It was Waddle that they looked to for playmaking, and though the winger’s original position was to the left in midfield, he would time and again come into central positions to try and use his vision and passing ability to good effect. Waddle was also a central player for English set-pieces, always searching for one of the taller players to flick the ball on, such as Butcher on the near post for corner kicks. One disappointing early free-kick halfway inside the visitors’ half saw him try to play the ball low into the area for Butcher, who was easily thwarted.
14 minutes into the second half, the hosts will arrive at their first effort since the break. Rocastle is doing a good job in closing down Stojković on the halfway line, and when the ball breaks for Robson, the England captain releases Waddle, who sets pace and looks up to consider his options. He spots Lineker making a run into the area ahead and slightly to the right of him, and so he plays the striker in for a pop at goal. Sadly, Lineker is somewhat off balance when he shoots, and his attempt drifts harmlessly to the left of goal. The pace with which England had broken forward, though, had been fine, and if they could set Waddle up in that kind of position again, then perhaps they could break down the stubborn resistance of the opponents.
Parker does well
It was not just in the left hand side of defence that England seemed well equipped. In Parker as a replacement for Stevens, they had fine cover along the right as well. Parker was a quick, compact player, not particularly tall, but he was still a match in the air for taller players with his jumping ability. He was also solid in possession, not just punting the ball forward at the first opportunity, but often taking some time in contemplating his options: There often appeared to be a distinct meaning behind what he was doing. Parker would frequently search out either forward with balls into the channel.
A second England double switch
Approaching the halfway stage in the second half, England manager Robson decides to go through with another double substitution. He replaces Arsenal midfielders Rocastle and Thomas with Hodge and Platt. Perhaps was he feeling that they could use more numbers inside the final third of the pitch, and so the capable Platt came on for a rather stationary Thomas alongside captain Robson in centre midfield. Hodge had done well when appearing as a second half substitute against Italy, then as a central midfielder. Here, however, the Nottingham man took to the left, the position which Waddle had held until then. As Rocastle was the wide player to depart, it meant a switch from left to right for Waddle. But would the manager allow for both Platt and Robson to make forward runs from midfield, with no player in a more holding role?
England score again
Just over a minute after the latest substitutions, England went in front. They owed a great deal to Parker, who refused to play a short ball further to the right for Waddle, but who instead looked up and saw Lineker with his back to the goal 30 yards out, away from Vulić. Parker continued his run, and Lineker returned the ball for him. The full-back enthusiastically made it deep into the area from the right hand side, and as he squared it into the centre, Bull had a fantastic dummy to fool Spasić. It seemed a deliberate piece of action by the burly front man, who so far had not enjoyed much luck in the game. Platt had made a deep run into the area, and was in line with Bull, but the ball would not reach the substitute after Bull’s clever deceptive play. Instead it broke for Robson, who came on one of his trademark runs into the box. The ball fell kindly for him, and he struck it sweetly with his left foot from around the penalty spot, with Ivković committed. It had been a well crafted goal, and England had shown their ruthlessness. The captain had netted his 26th international goal.
Visitors looking for a way back
There was still 20 minutes for Yugoslavia to look for a way back to level terms. Osim did not panic and make any immediate substitutions, but they would need to be more enterprising should they avoid disappointment at the final whistle. Škoro looked to work himself into shooting range as he took the ball inside from the left hand channel. However, he was faced with tenacious English defenders, and his eventual right-footed effort is blocked by Platt who was back defending. Five minutes after the goal, Stojković cleverly plays Brnović into a fine crossing position from the left with a deft pass, and the left sided defender picks out Sušić on the far post. However, the captain is not in a position to make a powerful headed effort at goal, and so he tries to find Mihajlović with a header back into the centre. Hodge has recovered well, though, and makes a headed interception to get the ball away for a right wing corner before it reaches Mihajlović. This sparks a series of corners from the same flag, and eventually England can draw their breath when Beasant rises to collect the final one of these from Savevski.
England’s central midfield constellation of Robson and Platt, an attacking combination, had brought a goal, but it lasted only nine minutes before the captain was replaced by a player of more defensive nature in the tough tackling McMahon. This saw the captain’s armband return to Butcher, who had performed similar duties in the second half against Italy. Only seconds after, it is the visitors who make their first substitutions of the match, as Osim decides to withdraw Brnović and Sušić. That meant both skippers had left the field of play almost simultaneously. For Yugoslavia, Hadžibegić would see the game out as captain. On for Brnović was young, tall central defender Panadić, whilst another 20 year old in midfield playmaker Prosinečki was brought on in place of Sušić. With Panadić looking to accept man marking duties, it meant that Spasić would move into the left-back position.
Ten minutes from time, Dorigo and Hodge show some fine combination play along the left. They appear to be a good match, and it will be the full-back who swings the ball into the centre, where Platt easily reaches the ball ahead of Prosinečki, whose heading ability was perhaps not of top European quality. Platt’s header back to the right edge of the penalty area falls to Parker, who has a go from a difficult angle. His effort would’ve been described as a daisy cutter had it not left grass level. As it is, his sliced effort clears the diagonal angle of the post and the crossbar by a few yards’ margin. Spasić, who had already been down the other end to cross the ball since moving into the left-back position, had attempted to block Parker’s shot, and in doing so, the big defender picked up what was most likely a cramp. He would have to come off, having only lasted a few minutes in his new position.
On for him came yet another 20 year old in the shape of Petrić, another player who was more at ease in a central role rather than as full-back. However, the centre back positions belonged to Panadić and Vulić, and so the latest substitute would have to see the game out in the wide left defensive position.
England bringing McMahon into a more defensive midfield role appears to be enough for them to see the match out, preserving their 2-1 lead. It is not as if Yugoslavia manage to raise their game to such an extent that they put the hosts under severe pressure in the latter stages, although substitute Prosinečki does well even in the limited amount of time that he gets on the pitch. He has a greater variety of passes than Sušić, and he seemed to have a certain appetite to get the visitors back on to level terms.
The nearest the visitors will get to equalizing, is when Prosinečki does well to gain a few yards and release Stanojković into yet another crossing position from the right. As his ball into the centre is headed out by Walker’s back head, Petrić connects first time from an angle inside the box, and his half volley is parried by Beasant, who at last sees some action, having hardly touched the ball in his second half debut appearance against Italy. Beasant’s save sees the ball end up in dangerous waters, and the ever alert Škoro looks to be on hand to side-foot the ball into the back of the net, only to see his team mate Mihajlović, in an offside position, stop the ball from travelling all the way.
It is probable, however, that Beasant would’ve got to the ball in time to make a goalline save, but it was nevertheless unnecessary by the striker to interfere when in an offside position. Petrić had initially done very well to strike his half volley so sweet. Two seconds from 45 minutes, referee Pauly decides to bring proceedings to an end. Yugoslavia have to accept defeat, and in all honesty it had been something of a disappointing performance from them again. England, on the other hand, had done just about enough to warrant their win, even if they too had not always managed to accelerate out of second gear.
England make a shock start by scoring inside the opening minute through Robson’s header, and Yugoslavia look shell shocked until they find their way back on to level terms through Škoro’s well taken equalizer about a quarter of an hour later. From then on and through to half time, it is an evenly balanced contest, and England can not exert the same level of pressure on Yugoslavia as they had done on Italy last time around. After the break, the game is almost a tedious affair until Robson’s fine strike for 2-1. Yugoslavia struggle to create much, even if there’s a late opportunity for Škoro to get a second. A draw would not have been unjust, but England probably just shaded it, and so could be said to deserve their win after all.
1 Shilton 6.6
shows a lack of reach for Škoro’s goal; otherwise relatively unworked
(13 Beasant 6.9
sweeps and is confident)
2 Parker 7.3
purposeful going forward, fine passing, and does not concede defensively
3 Pearce 6.9
engaged along the left
(14 Dorigo 6.9
solid debut, and proves himself as yet another left-back alternative)
4 Thomas 6.6
battles along, but does not distinguish himself
(12 Platt –
certainly a busy appearance in which he shows grit and typical forward running)
5 Walker 7.2
resolutely dents Mihajlović, and shows some blockbuster tackling
6 Butcher 7.1
had less need to be as powerful as he was against the Italians, but still very reliable
7 Robson 7.6
continued his goalscoring knack with a fine double, and committed at the heart of the action
(17 McMahon –
steadies the ship after coming on)
8 Rocastle 7.0
combative display, backchecks well, but could’ve posed greater threat in the attacking half
(15 Hodge –
on duty defensively, not so much engaged inside the attacking half)
9 Bull 6.3
not for the lack of trying, but never got much luck from Spasić. Excellent touch before Robson’s second
10 Lineker 6.8
this time more effective in his channel play than in front of goal, and battled with Vulić all night
11 Waddle 7.3
not as dominant as in his last outing, but a driving force when he decided to be. His 55 yard pass for Bull a joy to behold
1 Ivković 6.9
confident in his claiming, could not do much with either goal
2 Stanojković 7.4
a really fine outlet along the right hand side, and often in charge defensively as well
3 Spasić 7.3
the colossus kept Bull quiet all night, but came off with cramp after coming into the left-back position
(15 Petrić –
keeps his effort on goal down well for Beasant to parry)
4 Brnović 6.6
largely ineffective along his side
(13 Panadić –
continues where Spasić left off in dominance on Bull)
5 Hadžibegić 7.1
solid in the air, confident on the ball
6 Vulić 6.8
shadows Lineker alright, is not out of place when in possession, but much less powerful than the other central defenders
7 Škoro 7.5
such a big threat to the hosts, and neat close control
8 Sušić 6.9
found pockets of space in the centre
(14 Prosinečki –
a couple of fine long range passes)
9 Mihajlović 6.8
busy, not stationary, but not so successful
10 Stojković 6.6
much more expected of him; sloppiness in his distribution
11 Savevski 6.8
simple and reasonably effective, could’ve been more daring