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   June 15, 2002 | 1850 IST


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England romp into quarter-finals

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Trevor Huggins

England, inspired by captain David Beckham, swaggered into the quarter-finals of the World Cup on Saturday after crushing Denmark 3-0 in a pulsating second round clash.

Striker Michael Owen scored his first goal of the tournament, central defender Rio Ferdinand scored his first goal for England and Emile Heskey added a third as Sven-Goran Eriksson's side tore Denmark's much-vaunted defence to shreds in under 45 minutes.

The comprehensive victory matched England's morale-boosting 1-0 win over archrivals and pre-tournament favourites Argentina in the group stages and sets them up for a quarter-final against either Brazil or Belgium.

England's captain David Beckham (L), Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen (R) celebrate Owen's goal. The first half was a nightmare for Denmark, with goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen found wanting on two of the goals and defender Thomas Helveg forced to leave the field with a head injury following Ferdinand's 5th minute goal.

England scored only two goals in their three group games.

But they won the crucial battle in midfield, thanks largely to an outstanding Nicky Butt, while Ferdinand and Sol Campbell, earning his 50th cap, marshalled a defence which at times rode its luck but has conceded only one goal in its four games.

England made a dream start when Denmark goalkeeper Sorensen, who plays for Sunderland in the English premier league, bundled Ferdinand's sideways header over the line from a Beckham corner in the fifth minute.

Sorensen made up for the howler by denying Heskey, but was helpless in the 22nd minute when Owen spun round to finish off a neat three-man move in the area from five metres.

Heskey made it three in the 44th minute, crashing home a first-time shot from the edge of the area after neatly being picked out by Beckham.

Ebbe Sand should have pulled one back for the Danes after dodging past both Ferdinand and Campbell, only to skew his low shot wide of the right-hand post.

England refused to sit back in the second half, with Sorensen forced to tip over a dipping 25-metre drive from Beckham, while Denmark searched in vain for a game they had already lost. It was England's 11th competitive unbeaten match, a run stretching back to their opening World Cup qualifier in October 2000, when they lost 1-0 to Germany in the last match at Wembley.

Denmark, who eliminated defending champions France in the group stage, failed to score for the first time in a World Cup finals match. It was their 13th finals game.

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