Any watching England fans who put themselves through this turgid affair will at least have taken heart that Fabio Capello’s side should, on this evidence, win their two remaining games without too many problems. But that is scant consolation for a thoroughly dour game of football, and ninety minutes of my life I’d rather like back.
Things started brightly, with Portsmouth’s Nadir Belhadj going close with a 25-yard free kick that Samir Handanovic tipped over. But that was as good as it got in a miserable first half that I spent mostly wondering if this was the first time a Nadir had ever provided a high point. Rafik Halliche came close with a header just before half time. That really was it though.
After a tragic first half came the comedy. Veteran Abdelkader Ghezzal was brought on as a sub after 58 minutes, was booked for a sliding tackle after 59, missed a sitter from 12 yards after 60, and was headed back down the tunnel after 70 having inexplicably handled a cross.
Then with twelve minutes to go and both teams seemingly happy with 0-0, West Brom midfielder Robert Koren sent a low shot goalwards from the edge of the area. Algerian keeper Faouzi Chaouchi made a mess of it, the ball bouncing off his chest into the goal. Slovenia top Group C for the moment but surely won’t stay there for long. England and USA will have been happy with what they saw here; at least someone was.