Crouch at double as Capello aims Obama jibe at Beckham
ENGLAND (3) vs BELARUS (0)
HEAD COACH Fabio Capello compared David Beckham to US President Barack Obama after the veteran midfielder’s cameo helped England end their World Cup qualifying campaign in triumphant style.
Tottenham striker Peter Crouch caught the eye with two goals, taking his tally to 18 England strikes from 17 starts, while Manchester City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips netted the other goal. But Beckham, who did not even come on until the 60th minute, was controversially awarded man of the match – a decision Capello compared to Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize last week.
“It’s like Barack Obama having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize after only eight months as President of the United States,” said the Italian. “David was on the pitch less than half an hour.”
Beckham, winning his 115th cap, admitted he was “very surprised” at his award, but toasted a victory that finished England’s campaign on a positive note, having lost in Ukraine on Saturday. He added: “Tonight it was important to get over the loss. We needed to end on a high.”
With top spot in Group Six long since assured, Capello had promised to experiment in his last competitive fixture before next summer’s tournament. That meant Manchester United’s Ben Foster in goal, Manchester City duo Wayne Bridge and Wright-Phillips on the left flank and a new-look strike pairing of Crouch and Aston Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor. The frontmen took just three minutes to gel, Gareth Barry’s slide-rule pass finding Agbonlahor, whose skip to the by-line and cut-back allowed Crouch to slide home with a tentacle-like leg.
After a mid-match lull, the introduction of Beckham prompted the second goal, the midfielder’s first action being a short corner to Wright-Phillips, who drilled low past Yuri Zhevnov from the edge of the box. Foster was then presented with a chance to answer his critics, and responded emphatically with a superb reflex save to keep out Sergei Omelyanchuk’s rasping volley.
Captain John Terry caused furrowed brows when he limped heavily after appearing to hurt his ankle, but concern soon turned to cheers when Crouch plundered a second. Another searching Barry pass found substitute Carlton Cole barely onside, and when the West Ham forward’s low shot was spilled by the clumsy Zhevnov, Crouch snaffled the rebound.
Becks: Milan loan deal is 95% done
DAVID BECKHAM insisted his loan move to AC Milan was “95 per cent done” last night as he stepped up his claim for a World Cup place.
The 115-cap star was man-of-the-match in the victory over Belarus but the LAGalaxy star knows a move to the San Siro is key to his selection.
“It’s close, Beckham said. “I always said I want to go back if they want me, and they’re still saying they do.
“It’s 95 per cent done – I don’t see why it wouldn’t happen.”