|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Beckham stunner secures England win
Trevor Huggins | October 10, 2004 11:52 IST
A stunning goal by captain David Beckham guided England to a convincing 2-0 victory over Wales in their World Cup qualifier at his former Old Trafford home on Saturday.
England got off to a dream start after only four minutes of the Group Six clash when midfielder Frank Lampard's shot took a deflection off Michael Owen's heel and flew into the right-hand corner beyond the reach of wrong-footed Welsh keeper Paul Jones.
But there was no doubting England's scorer in the 76th minute when Beckham, in his second season at Real Madrid after leaving Manchester United, sent a curling 25-metre shot beyond Jones for his 15th goal in his 76th international.
Beckham blotted his copy book just minutes later, though, for a yellow card after a rash challenge on Ben Thatcher that will rule him out of next Wednesday's qualifier in Azerbaijan.
After starting out with a 2-2 draw in Austria and a 2-1 win in Poland, Saturday's victory lifted England to provisional top slot in their group on seven points, ahead of Austria (4pts) and Poland (3pts), who were meeting later on Saturday in Vienna.
It was a game where many paths crossed, with Wales winger Ryan Giggs taking on United team mate Gary Neville down the flank and former United players such as Beckham and fellow midfielder Nicky Butt returning to Old Trafford.
Giggs's duel with Neville ended with Neville getting the better of his club mate, while England's left wingback Ashley Cole got the better of Craig Bellamy, Sol Campbell effectively muzzled John Hartson and Rio Ferdinand clearing all the remaining danger on his return from suspension.
England's defensive solidity was the platform for the win, while the sparkle was provided by Rooney, in an unfamiliar playmaking role behind strikers Owen and Jermain Defoe.
England could not have hoped for a better start when Owen laid the ball off for Lampard and the midfielder's shot deflected off Owen and past Jones. Lampard has now scored seven goals in 27 appearances for England -- with six of those coming in his last nine matches.
Defoe followed up by firing wide after good work by Cole, while Owen forced a clumsy but effective save by Jones with his legs and Rooney grazed the base of the post with the Wales keeper getting a vital touch.
At the other end, Wales's only scoring chance of the half came when skipper Gary Speed sent a glancing header straight at keeper Paul Robinson from a Giggs free-kick.
England returned with more bite after the break with Owen going on an uncharacteristic run through the Wales defence before being denied a clean shot and Rooney trying his luck from an impossible angle when he should laid the ball back for a team mate.
Bellamy had the ball in England's net long after Norwegian referee Terje Hauge had blown for an infringement before Beckham's superb shot put the game beyond Wales's reach.
England could easily have had a third after a superb run by Rooney and a series of close-range efforts which Jones blocked in a lively finish.