ENGLAND (3) vs MEXICO (1)
FABIO CAPELLO had to give his lacklustre England side a half-time dressing down to inspire a unconvincing World Cup warm-up win over Mexico at Wembley last night.
The Mexicans were allowed to dominate long periods of the first half and would have had England on the rack but for two excellent saves from keeper Robert Green.
Goals from Tottenham duo Ledley King – making his first England start in three years – and Peter Crouch, looked to put England in control, only for West Ham’s Guillermo Franco to help the deficit before the break.
But Capello’s words sprung England into life and full-back Glen Johnson restored the two-goal cushion with a fantastic run and strike from 20 yards just after the break.
“The manager wanted more aggression from the whole team,” vice-captain Steven Gerrard admitted. “They had too much possession in the first half, we stood off them and let them play. In the second half we got in their faces and stopped them playing. We need to be more aggressive.”
For a number of these players, this was a chance to impress the boss with the naming of a final 23-man squad just seven days away. But it all looked a little nervous early on as Mexico, impressive World Cup qualifiers themselves, played the majority of the football and took the game to their hosts.
Thankfully for England, the Mexicans weren’t quite so assured at the back, however, and Capello’s set-piece experts made them pay when King stole in to head Peter Crouch’s knock-back past keeper Perez.
Green kept England in front with a fine close-range save from Arsenal’s Carlos Vela, while Carlos Salcido struck a post with a shot from the edge of the box. Yet, still England added a second on 35 minutes when Wayne Rooney’s header was brilliantly deflected onto the bar by Perez and Crouch bundled the ball over the line.
Franco’s goal back from close range and Capello’s half-time rant, sparked England into life – Johnson cutting in from the right, beating three men across the area and curling a fine effort past Perez into the far top corner to cap a happy send-off for the Three Lions in their last home match before South Africa.
Capello added: “I learned a lot about some situations on the pitch. Not only me but also the players – we have to press more to win back the ball quickly.”
winners & losers
THIS time next week, England manager Fabio Capello will name his final 23-man to take to South Africa. For a number of his hopefuls, last night was their big chance to impress, whether it be to stake a claim for a starting place or just to make the final 23. Here is how they fared on a night of mixed fortunes at Wembley.
Tremendous first-half saves from Carlos Vela and Carlos Salcido must surely keep him out in front as Capello’s No1 choice, despite one slight fumble.
Wasn’t blessed with the opportunities of his rival Robert Green but did what he had to do efficiently, and clearly has the of confidence of his back line.
Nervous opening with a few stray passes and maybe at fault for the goal. But showed he has enough to be included as back up to Ashley Cole.
Capped his first start for three years with a goal, but this wasn’t the Tottenham man’s best defensive display of the season. Still only a stand-by.
Typically solid and efficient, if not spectacular. Came on in the second half for his first England run-out in three years and settled in nicely.
Could be set for a big role in South Africa if Gareth Barry misses out, but a few stray passes in a nervous first half didn’t do his cause any good.
No matter how fortunate it was, the Spurs man added to his phenomenal strike rate for England, while also creating the opening goal for King.