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England prove they still pack a goal punch ahead of Montenegro trip

| 25.03.2013

Friday’s international fixtures saw a broadly favourable set of results for the home nations in action, with the exception of Scotland, 2-1 losers in their first competitive outing under Gordon Strachan.

England will have learnt little from their 8-0 steam rollering of San Marino bar the fact that they possess the class to put weak opposition to the sword despite resting key players such as Steven Gerrard and first choice fullbacks Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson.

Jermain Defoe scored his first goals of the year in the victory, and the Tottenham man is 13/2 last goal scorer with Coral for England’s clash with Montenegro on Tuesday having registered the final goal in two of his last three scoring appearances for the three lions.

Needless to say Montenegro will be far more durable foes than the San Marinese’s motley crew of barmen, accountants and painter-decorators and Branko Brnovic’s men have been particularly miserly defenders this season, conceding twice in six 2012/13 games.

England’s two previous meetings with the young Balkan republic have both ended in stalemate and that result be backed again at 5/2 with Coral.

What the Montenegrins boast in defensive rigour they perhaps lack in attacking vim, winning their Friday qualifier against Moldova – whom England hammered 5-0 in Chisinau – by a slender goal to nil. They struggled to break down stubborn hosts despite fielding Serie-A-honed attacking talents Stefan Jovetic of and Juventus’ Mirko Vucinic (the latter volleying home in the 74th minute to spare his nation’s blushes).

Wales picked up their second successive come-from-behind 2-1 win against Scotland, a performance all the more impressive given poster boy Gareth Bale was withdrawn at half time.

The Welsh have won three of their last four games ahead of Croatia’s visit to the Millenium Stadium but they’re a juicy 4/1 to record another victory. However it may be that the 8/11 about the visitors securing victory is more enticing. They arrive on a run of four consecutive victories including a 2-1 away success in Macedonia.

The Croatians utterly dominated Wales in the reverse fixture, raining down 29 attempts on the Welsh goal and hogging 76 per cent of possession.