England 4–0 Bulgaria
Defoe 3, 61, 86
A. Johnson 83
Jermaine Defoe’s hat-trick gave England the best possible start to their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, against a Bulgarian side who were in the game until its pivotal moment just past the hour.
England led thanks to Defoe’s third-minute opener, firing home left-footed after Bulgarian keeper Nikolai Mihaylov saved Ashley Cole’s left-foot shot and Cole pulled the rebound back to him.
But they failed to seize the initiative in a dull first-half. And Bulgaria threatened an equaliser in their best spell, after half-time.
Ivelin Popov was inches wide with a left-foot shot on 52 minutes. And nine minutes later, England keeper Joe Hart batted away Stanislav Angleov’s firmly struck left-footer.
This was the turning point, however, as England doubled their advantage within seconds, Defoe nutmegging Mihalyov from Wayne Rooney’s inch-perfect pass.
Hart made a fine right-handed save from Bulgarian substitute Dimitar Rangelov’s first touch.
But substitute Adam Johnson made it 3-0 when he beat Mihaylov at his near post with a low left-foot shot on 83 minutes.
And three minutes later, Defoe completed his hat-trick, converting another fine Rooney pass – Rooney’s third assist of the evening.
The only down side for England was a serious-looking knee injury to centre-half Michael Dawson.
Tags: Jermaine Defoe, England, Euro 2012 qualifying, Bulgaria, Adam Johnson