Crouch stars as England win
03 Mar 2010 - 22:03:57
England responded to the shock of going a goal down to beat Egypt 3-1 in an entertaining friendly international at Wembley.
Peter Crouch, a half-time substitute for the ineffective Jermain Defoe, who was starting his first England match for 16 months, scored twice while Shaun Wright-Phillips, who came on for Steven Gerrard midway through the second period, was also on target.
It was always going to be a tough game against a team that won the Africa Cup of Nations for a third successive time in January, particularly as England were without injured quartet Rio Ferdinand, Aaron Lennon, Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole.
Fabio Capello handed an international debut to Everton left-back Leighton Baines while Theo Walcott earned a recall to the starting line-up. Robert Green was preferred to David James and Joe Hart in goal.
England started brightly and in the sixth minute Wayne Rooney and Walcott combined well down the right. The Arsenal man pulled the ball back for Frank Lampard who should have scored from ten yards out, only to stab a weak shot straight at goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary.
However, Egypt, who failed to qualify for this summer's World Cup finals in South Africa, were very adventurous and played some attractive football.
It did not come as too much of a surprise when they took the lead midway through the first period. Matthew Upson's untimely slip allowed the very impressive Mohamed Zidan to find room and blast a fine shot past the despairing dive of Green.
Having taken the lead, Egypt sat back and let England come at them and, in the 35th minute, the hosts should have equalised when a corner somehow found its way through to Lampard who scuffed a shot into the ground before the ball bounced harmlessly over the bar.
Egypt started the second half well but the match turned in the 56th minute when England equalised out of the blue.
Some slick one-touch passing by Michael Carrick and Gerrard allowed Gareth Barry to cross for Crouch to pass the ball into the net. It was a superb move not in keeping with the rest of England's play up until that point.
Gerrard and Rooney had half-chances before England moved ahead with 15 minutes left. It came about because of a howler by the otherwise steady El-Hadary who pushed James Milner's drive out to Wright-Phillips.
The Manchester City man's effort seemed to be straight at the Egypt keeper who contrived to let the ball slip through his fingers and into the back of the net.
Five minutes later England confirmed their second-half superiority with a third goal. Wright-Phillips, who was very lively after he came on for the hapless Walcott, combined well with Wes Brown before crossing for Crouch, looking suspiciously offside, to sidefoot the ball home.