25 June, 2006

Beckham Special: England 1 Ecuador 0

There are books to be written on England's inconsistency in major tournaments. We are due a decent performance and it finally comes against Ecuador.

England are on top throughout a scrappy first half, but as in previous matches they struggle with the final ball and finishing, partly due to playing Wayne Rooney as the sole striker. Ecuador pose little threat, however, aside from a Carlos Tenorio shot which is deflected onto the bar by Ashley Cole. The most entertaining moment is Mark Lawrenson's embarrassing attempt at a Sven Goran Eriksson impersonation which gets no further than saying "Well".

In the second half England turn it up a notch and take a deserved lead on the hour when David Beckham places a free kick between the post and the keeper's outstretched arm, his first goal for the national team since 2003. England miss further chances, most notably when Frank Lampard, running onto the ball in front of goal, blasts it over the top after he appears to slip, but show no sign of throwing away their lead and make this look like their easiest match yet.

Aaron Lennon impresses again when he comes on for the last 10 minutes, but the the match is all about a solid team performance and is a good deal more encouraging than the group games.

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