March 29, 2009 12:49:33 pm
England brushed aside Slovakia 4-0 in a friendly at Wembley on Saturday,a victory notable mainly for David Beckham’s 109th cap and a rare international goal for striker Emile Heskey.
The much-travelled Heskey lasted only 15 minutes before going off injured,but it was long enough for him to touch in Steven Gerrard’s low cross for his sixth goal on his 52nd international appearance.
The 33-year-old Beckham,who replaced Aaron Lennon at halftime to move past the late Bobby Moore as England’s most capped outfield player,marked his milestone by setting up Wayne Rooney for England’s second 20 minutes from time.
Frank Lampard slotted a third England goal late on and Rooney scored again with the last kick of the game to complete the rout and a satisfactory warm-up for Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier at home to Ukraine.
Fabio Capello’s England top Group Six with a 100 percent record and will go into the clash with Ukraine in good heart,although injuries to Heskey and Carlton Cole,who also limped off after replacing Heskey,took the gloss off the victory.
England dominated the early exchanges and took just seven minutes to go in front when Heskey got the finishing touch to Gerrard’s cross to register his first goal in an England shirt for almost six years.
He should have had another a minute later but headed Wayne Rooney’s perfect cross over a gaping goal.
Slovakia,who like England started the day top of their World Cup qualifying group,offered little.
One shot from Miroslav Karhan forced a sharp save from David James and the keeper spared defender Matthew Upson’s blushes shortly before the interval when he saved from Robert Vittek after Upson was caught napping.
Apart from that,it was all England with winger Lennon,winning his first cap for two years,and Gerrard both denied by Slovakia goalkeeper Stefan Senecky.
Cole hobbled off clutching his groin after 34 minutes,meaning Capello had to use Peter Crouch,his final striking option,before halftime. Crouch was also substituted later.
Capello made three halftime substitutions,the most significant being the introduction of Beckham to a huge ovation from the 85,000 crowd.
Slovakia’s halftime substitute Erik Jendrisek almost made an impact,however,firing wide after a flowing counter-attack.
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