ENGLAND 1, WALES 0.
Ashley Young inched England to within touching distance of a place in the finals of Euro 2012 with the goal which proved the catalyst for their Wembley win against Wales.
The Manchester United striker scored only his third international goal, but it was one of huge importance as it unlocked the stubborn Welsh defence and proved to be England’s matchwinner as they laboured to a hard-earned victory.
Young also proved that in the short time since his summer move to Old Trafford he has matured into a far more accomplished and complete footballer.
And the goal helped ease the nerves as England had, remarkably, been without a home win in one year and three days after failures to beat Montenegro, France, Ghana and Switzerland in their last four games on home turf.
Again it was an England team very much made in Manchester with the two clubs providing six of the starting line up. United supplied talisman Wayne Rooney, Young and Chris Smalling while the blue half gave Joe Hart, Gareth Barry and James Milner, the latter replacing the injured Theo Walcott.
England were buoyed by Friday’s 3-0 win in Bulgaria which took them a giant step closer to qualifying for the finals of Euro 2012.
Wales, meanwhile, were lifted by their first victory of their qualifying campaign at home to Montenegro four days earlier.
They were without the creative juices of the suspended Craig Bellamy and David Vaughan employing a 4-5-1 system aimed at frustrating England which is exactly what they succeeded in doing in a low-key opening.
England captain John Terry headed well wide early on while Stewart Downing blazed over, their only two lukewarm chances of the opening half hour.
However, the breakthrough came in the 34th minute when Downing fired over a low cross from the right which Young converted with a clinically taken shot from eight yards low to the left on the unsighted keeper Wayne Hennessey.
The second half remained an equally cagey affair with a distinct lack of chances which made Young’s goal even more valuable.
Frank Lampard, Gary Cahill and Wayne Rooney each fired over as Hennessey enjoyed a relatively quiet night for a visiting goalkeeper.
England had an almighty let off with 14 minutes when they failed to clear the danger following a free kick and substitute Robert Earnshaw found himself completely free six yards out only to blazed over.
Wales manager Gary Speed held his hands in disbelief as was a great opportunity for Wales to equalise and cause a major upset by snatching a draw. Earnshaw had a couple of other decent chances in an impressive cameo as England must have been relieved he hadn’t been on from the start as he proved a nuisance in his 22 minutes on the pitch.