England plead for defense after setting new clean sheets record



England set a national record with their 12th clean sheet of 2021, beating Andorra 5-0 in Saturday’s World Cup qualifiers.

Defense has been a cornerstone of England’s success under Gareth Southgate and in terms of clean sheets, this team has now topped Gordon Banks and the company tally in the year of the World Cup victory 1966.

Here, the PA news agency examines how the two sides stack up against each other.


Gordon Banks’ heroism earned him a World Cup winner’s medal (Toby Melville / PA)

Banks were almost always there in goal as Sir Alf Ramsey’s side kept 11 clean sheets in 17 games, conceded just nine goals and went undefeated all year.

Such a record did not seem possible when England fell behind Poland in their first game of the year on January 5, with Jerzy Sadek opening the scoring at Goodison Park, but Bobby Moore’s equalizer gave the tone for the best year in English football. .

Nobby Stiles scored the only goal in what would prove a repeat of the World Cup final against West Germany and while Scotland managed three goals against their Auld Enemy, Roger Hunt’s brace has helped England win 4-3.

  1. England 1 RFA 0, friendly, February 23

  2. England 2 Yugoslavia 0, friendly, May 4

  3. Finland 0 England 3, friendly, June 26

  4. Denmark 0 England 2, friendly, July 3

  5. Poland 0 England 1, friendly, July 5

  6. England 0 Uruguay 0, World Cup, July 11

  7. England 2 Mexico 0, World Cup, July 16

  8. England 2 France 0, World Cup, July 20

  9. England 1 Argentina 0, World Cup, July 23

  10. Northern Ireland 0 England 2, Euro qualifiers, October 22

  11. England 0 Czechoslovakia 0, friendly, November 2

Banks kept his clean sheet in the World Cup warm-ups against Yugoslavia and Finland before sitting down against Norway and Denmark – Norway’s Harald Sunde scored early in front of Ron Springett but England have fired back with six, including four from Jimmy Greaves, and Peter Bonetti kept the Danes out.

Portuguese star Eusebio, with a semi-final penalty, and West German duo Helmut Haller and Wolfgang Weber were the only players to score against Banks in England’s triumphant World Cup campaign at home, Haller making the Germans the third team of the year to lead. against England at any time before Sir Geoff Hurst took center stage.

More clean sheets followed against Northern Ireland and Czechoslovakia before a 5-1 win over Wales.


The parallels this year are obvious, with Southgate’s European Championship finalists coming as close as any English team other than Ramsey’s to a major trophy.

The journey to the final was noticeably similar with the only goals conceded in the semi-final – a nice free kick from the Danish Mikkel Damsgaard – and in the final from the Italian Leonardo Bonucci. The loss on penalties prevented history from repeating itself in its entirety.

England won their group against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic without conceding a goal and also shut out Germany and Ukraine in the round of 16, Austria and Romania in the matches of warm-up before the tournament and San Marino, Albania, Hungary and Andorra twice in World Cup Qualifying.

  1. England 5 San Marino 0, World Cup qualification, March 25

  2. Albania 0 England 2, World Cup qualification, March 28

  3. England 1 Austria 0, friendly, June 2

  4. England 1 Romania 0, friendly, June 6

  5. England 1 Croatia 0, Euro 2020, June 13

  6. England 0 Scotland 0, Euro 2020, June 18

  7. Czech Republic 0 England 1, Euro 2020, June 22

  8. England 2 Germany 0, Euro 2020, June 29

  9. Ukraine 0 England 4, Euro 2020, July 3

  10. Hungary 0 England 4, World Cup qualification, September 2

  11. England 4 Andorra 0, World Cup qualification, September 5

  12. Andorra 0 England 5, World Cup qualification, October 9

The record 12th draw came in England’s 16th game of the year with Polish duo Jakub Moder and Damian Szymanski, in separate World Cup qualifiers, the only other players to score against the England this year.

Three goalkeepers contributed, Jordan Pickford going 726 minutes without conceding and England keeping seven straight clean sheets – both domestic records – before Damsgaard’s strike. It was also the only time of the year that England trailed in a game, and that for only nine minutes.

There were two shutouts for Nick Pope and three for Sam Johnstone, who had the honor of completing the record in Andorra and even collected an assist for Jack Grealish along the way.


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