As Jermain Defoe limped off the Wembley pitch knowing the match ball was safe in his grasp, England’s World Cup woes were left in the shadows last night with a comprehensive display over Bulgaria.
A poor Bulgaria side were shoved aside as England started their 2012 European Championship Qualifying campaign, and it was a near-perfect start for Fabio Capello’s men.
The injury to Michael Dawson, ruling him out of the clash with Switzerland on Tuesday, was the only sour point of the evening as England look to justify their 8/1 odds to emerge victorious in Poland and Ukraine in 2012.
Despite Defoe’s hat-trick, Wayne Rooney was at the heart of the England attack and played a part in each of Defoe’s goals, which took Defoe to 13 goals under Fabio Capello’s reign.
Things could have been different though had it not been for some great goalkeeping from England’s new number one Joe Hart.
At 1-0 down Hart produced a point-blank save to stop Stanislav Angelov equalising for the Bulgarians.
From that England quickly countered in the form of Gerrard and Rooney, before Defoe produced a composed finish to increase the lead.
Hart has certainly laid claim to the goalkeeping jersey and it seems the 23-year-old will hold a place between the sticks for a long time to come.
England head to Switzerland on Tuesday for the second match of their qualifying group and are 4/5 to win.
Capello has silenced the boo boys for now but will need to continue in the same vein against Switzerland. See the full 2012 European Championship football betting market here.