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   2 June, 2002 | 1645 IST



France get the blues

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England-Sweden draw 1-1

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Bill Barclay

Sweden produced a determined second-half display to hold England to a 1-1 draw in their opening World Cup group F match on Sunday, maintaining a jinx going back to 1968.

Midfielder Niclas Alexandersson cancelled out Sol Campbell's first-half effort for England who faded after a strong opening and have now not beaten Sweden in their last 10 attempts.

Sol Campbell rejoices after scoring his first goal for England.England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson will also be monitoring the fitness of his captain David Beckham who came off after 63 minutes, although he did not look to have suffered a recurrence of his foot injury.

The result was satisfactory for both sides, despite tournament favourites Argentina, whom England play next, winning 1-0 against Nigeria in the first group F match earlier on Sunday.

England began by far the brighter of the two sides, roared on from behind by a large contingent of supporters who outsung their Swedish counterparts.

But their goal came from an unlikely source. Campbell had not scored in 46 previous internationals -- although he did have a goal controversially ruled out against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup.

The burly defender met Beckham's pinpoint 24th-minute corner with an unstoppable header from six metres that left Sweden goalkeeper Magnus Hedman floundering.

Sweden's Niclas Alexandersson (R) celebrates with team mate Anders Svensson after scoring.Sweden, with fit-again Fredrik Ljungberg but missing captain Patrik Andersson due to a thigh injury, looked strangely subdued in the first half and hardly troubled England goalkeeper David Seaman.

Lars Lagerback's men were a different side in the second half and took the game to their opponents, gradually building up the pressure until England cracked after 59 minutes.

Right-back Danny Mills failed to control the ball and his desperate clearance fell to Alexandersson who steadied himself before lashing the ball past Seaman from 20 metres.

Teddy Lucic tested the England goalkeeper soon afterwards and should have given Sweden the lead after 65 minutes when played clean through by Henrik Larsson, but Seaman blocked superbly.

Eriksson removed Beckham, who did not look match fit, and brought on Kieron Dyer, another only just back from injury.

Michael Owen went close for England after that and Larsson struck a low shot narrowly wide for the Swedes who deserved their point.

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