Sunday June 2nd, 2002
England vs Sweden in Saitama
England needed to win this game,. after Argentina's victory against Nigeria earlier in the day.
The question was, could the walking wounded rise to the occasion and
overshadow the Queen's Golden Jubilee?
And the simple answer is...... no they couldn't!
The first-half looked promising as David Beckham's foot seemed to hold
out and Sol Campbell rose to one of his high, inswinging corners..... to powerfully head
England into the lead.
But in the second-half, England's performance left a lot to be
desired. The defenders looked like headless chickens and relied on David Seaman to save
them for a draw.
The English fans created a great atmosphere in Saitama but the England
team needed to have enough character to lift themselves above mediocrity as well.
This wasn't an English Premier League game in rainy Lancashire (as the
line-ups might have suggested) but a World Cup group game in sweaty Japan.
England earn a corner.... Beckham takes it.... a high curler... and Sol Campbell rises
high to power a header past the approaching Magnus Hedman - 24 mins.
Instead of consolidating their lead while David Beckham was still on
the pitch, England seemed to take their foot of the pedal and the English fans tried a
chorus of Rule Britannia to liven them up.
Playing week in and week out together, most of the Swedish players
knew the England team too well and Svengali Eriksson proved he didn't have the magic touch
to get his players to spring a surprise.
Predictability at it's worse, England soon let Sweden get back into
the game and run at them more with the ball. Beckham and co. were tiring.
Half-time: England 1 - Sweden 0
The second-half started as the first ended, with Sweden looking the
more dangerous and Rio Ferdinand was lucky to get away without a penalty decision going
Sweden felt more confident and continued to attack the Seaman goal.
Without the attacking French contingent in front of him, David Seaman always looked
vulnerable when Sweden had possession.
England paid the price for not taking the game to Sweden. A poor clearance from Danny
Mills fell to Niclas Alexandersson, who was allowed to run at, and through, the defenders
rooted to their spots on the left - 59 mins.
Two minutes later, Sweden almost scored a second. Time for the tiring
David Beckham to be replaced by the equally unfit Kieron Dyer.
Without a conductor, the aspiring symphony's notes played flat. David
Seaman had to make a number of crucial saves to keep England in the game; his England
defense, with three lions on their chests looked like little kittens with their eyes still
stuck shut at birth.
Owen Hargreaves tried to display some of the qualities that make him a
Bayern Munich starter and Michael Owen had a shot that shaved the outside of the post.
Apart from Joe Cole nipping at the heels of the Swedish players in
midfield, the rest of the England team seemed to feel they'd done their day's work.... it
is a Sunday after all.... and seemed to think about the length of the grass at home that
they could be cutting.
In the last minute of the game, another mistake from Ashley Cole let
Henrik Larsson in, with a clear view of the goal. Only David Seaman's long hair put the
clean shaven Swede off the ball... and his drive went wide.
England were very lucky to get away with a draw and will need a whole
new outlook against Argentina if they're to stay in the tournament.
Perhaps that was the problem..... the walking wounded wanted to be fit
for the Argentina game and used this as another of those unimportant friendlies, while
trying not to wound their pride as well.
England 1 -
Man of the Match:
David Seaman - for making some crucial save to keep England's World Cup dreams alive......
at least until they meet Argentina.
Sol Campbell (12 mins)
Marcus Allbäck (45 mins)
Andreas Jakobsson (73 mins)
1 David Seaman; 2 Danny Mills, 3 Ashley Cole, 5 Rio Ferdinand, 6 Sol Campbell; 7 David
Beckham (23 Kieron Dyer - 63 mins), 8 Paul Scholes, 18 Owen Hargreaves; 11 Emile Heskey,
20 Darius Vassell (19 Joe Cole - 74 mins), 10 Michael Owen.
1 Magnus Hedman; 2 Olof Mellberg, 15 Andreas Jakobsson, 16 Teddy Lucic; 4 Johan Mjallby, 6
Tobias Linderoth, 7 Niclas Alexandersson, 9 Fredrik Ljungberg, 17 Magnus Svensson (8
Anders Svensson - 56 mins); 10 Marcus Allbäck (22 Andreas Andersson - 80 mins), 11 Henrik
Referee: Carlos Simon
Denmark, France, Senegal, Uruguay.
Paraguay, Slovenia, Spain,
Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Turkey.
South Korea, United States.
Korea First Round Matches.
Cameroon, Germany, Republic of Ireland,
Argentina, England, Nigeria, Sweden.
Croatia, Ecuador, Italy, Mexico.
Belgium, Japan, Russia, Tunisia.
Japan First Round Matches.
2002 World Cup Finals - Knockout Stage.
Group Tables - Leading Goalscorers.
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