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   June 8, 2002 | 1055 IST



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England learn defensive lessons

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It was David Beckham who took the plaudits against Argentina, but England's defence has finally sorted itself out ahead of Wednesday's final World Cup group F game against Nigeria.

England's 1-0 victory over Argentina on Friday was secured by a first-half penalty from skipper David Beckham, but also a second-half demonstration of heart-and-soul defending.

Central defender Sol Campbell was delighted with the performance as Argentine attacks bounced off the England wall, which cracked only when Mauricio Pochettino was allowed a free header from a corner but goalkeeper David Seaman blocked it on the line.

"It was fantastic, we were solid," Campbell said. "They had a couple of chances -- your're going to get that -- and we had some chances as well.

Beckham and Trevor Sinclair celebrate "But overall, it was very pleasing for us to get the win and be solid.

"Everyone chipped in, from the front, the midfield and the centre halves -- the whole team. David made some fantastic saves as well -- it was a great team performance.

"We needed a win. And we needed it more than they did."


Adding to the satisfaction was taking revenge for England's second round exit to Argentina on penalties in the 1998 finals -- when Campbell had a potential match winner disallowed.

"Four years ago was very disappointing for us, getting knocked out," he said. "But this makes up for it.

"We're not going to get carried away -- we've just got to keep it going, keep on performing -- and keep on winning."

Fellow defender Danny Mills showed he had learned his World Cup lesson after a wayward clearance set up Sweden's equaliser in last Sunday's 1-1 draw at Saitama.

"I knew that one mistake can be costly at this level," Mills said. "I found that out in the Sweden game but I decided not to let it affect me either in the latter part of the Sweden game or the rest of the tournament."

Looking back on their gritty performance in Sapporo, which may need to be repeated against the Nigerians, Mills said: "It was backs against the wall, stick your chins out and defend for your lives.

"It was a great credit to the lads -- throwing bodies in front of balls, working their socks off and doing everything to get in the way of shots. I think we deserved to win."

Left back Ashley Cole was similarly upbeat about England's display and their chances of going through to the second round -- by securing at least a draw in Osaka.

"We had to concentrate, we had to defend our lead against a great team, so we knew it would be hard coming out," he said.

"But if we can go into the Nigeria game happy, and perform like we did today, I don't see why we can't go through."

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