Liverpool’s £35m man breaks his England duck but Gyan spoils the party with late strike

ENGLAND (1) vs GHANA (1)

ENGLAND striker Andy Carroll scored his first goal for his country last night in emphatic style and then declared: I’m here to stay.

The 22-year-old, making only his second appearance for his country, produced the highlight of the night from an England perspective with a thunderous left-footed strike three minutes before half-time.

His overall display may not have been as impressive as on his debut against France back in November, but by finding the net so early in his England career, Carroll feels he’s lifted a significant monkey from his back.

“I’m coming back fit now,” said Carroll, who has made just four appearances for Liverpool since his £35m move from Newcastle in January. “Getting the goal proved I’m here and ready to score goals for England.

“It was great to get the goal. The lads played well, we’re disappointed they scored in the last minute.”

England were denied victory in a genuinely competitive friendly, enhanced by the contribution of around 20,000 Ghana fans, when Asamoah Gyan (left) struck a fine individual goal on the stroke of 90 minutes.

The away fans were made to wait for their champagne moment by England goalkeeper Joe Hart, who produced two excellent saves early on, both from the lively Dominic Adiyiah.

At the other end Blackpool’s Richard Kingson saved well from Ashley Young and then had the crossbar to thank when the Aston Villa man hit the woodwork from six yards.

But Carroll broke the deadlock with one of his already trademark powerful finishes after Stewart Downing had flicked Young’s lofted pass into his path.

Despite the concession of a late equaliser, manager Fabio Capello was encouraged by the progress of his supporting cast.

He said: “The players played without fear, with confidence and the performance was fantastic.

“Carroll scored a goal and he’s an important player for England. He needs more time and games to improve but it’s always important for a striker to score goals.”

WINNERS & LOSERS

Having controversially opted to make seven changes from last weekend’s win in Wales, Fabio Capello found out a lot about some of the men on the periphery of his England team last night. Much of it was encouraging, some of it, however, was familiarily worrying.

LEIGHTON BAINES
It’s commonly perceived that Kieran Gibbs will be the natural successor to Ashley Cole as England’s left-back, but nobody appears to have told Baines. The Everton star, like Cole, is as reliable in defence as he is in attack.

GARY CAHILL
Looked by far the most assured of England’s back-up centre-halves. One superbly timed second-half slide tackle was the highlight, but for a player stereotyped by his association with Bolton, it was uplifting to note his smart use of the ball.

ASHELY YOUNG
If Fabio Capello’s move to 4-3-3 is going to suit anyone, on the early evidence Young is looking like being the main beneficiary. It’s a system he’s used to playing in at club level and his appreciation of when to move in off the wing was impressive.

JOLEON LESCOTT
Looks less an international footballer with each passing appearance. Lucky not to concede a penalty and made to look foolish by Asamoah Gyan for the equaliser. Surely it would be more productive to promote Chris Smalling from the U21s.