England v Egypt, 03 March 2010

Score3-1 to England
RefereeCarlos Manuel Torres
CompetitionInternational Friendly
VenueWembley Stadium
Attendance80,602
Kick-off: 8.00pm Match report Source: The Times (Oliver Kay) Tucked away on page 27 of the match programme, there was a feature called "Seventh Heaven". Another David Beckham love-in? Something to inspire Theo Walcott before he trod the boards for another England audition? No, it was a list of all seven of Emile Heskey's goals over the course of an international career that has spanned 11 years and 57 appearances. Heskey did not get the opportunity to pick up another international cap against Egypt last night. Instead he was given a lesson in the art of goalscoring by Peter Crouch, who had spent the first half alongside him on the bench, but entered the action and scored twice to help to turn a difficult evening into an uplifting victory in which Shaun Wright-Phillips, another substitute, figured prominently. So what does all of this tell Fabio Capello? In some ways, nothing that he did not know. He knows that, if it is goals that he wants, Crouch, whose England goalscoring record stands at an impressive 20 in 37 appearances (18 starts, 19 as substitute), is in a different league to Heskey. So is Jermain Defoe, who started last night's game and might feasibly have scored twice before making way for Crouch. But if the World Cup were to start tomorrow, it would surprise nobody if Capello turned once more to the oft-maligned Heskey alongside Wayne Rooney. The selection of Defoe was surprising because Capello had spoken again on Tuesday about his preference for a big man, rather than another little man, to play in support of Rooney. The question is just what Capello wants from that big man. Crouch brings a guarantee of goals, but it is unarguable — a mystery in some ways, but nonetheless unarguable — that England's best performances in recent years have always come with Heskey in the team. So what must Crouch do to get in the starting line-up, Capello was asked afterwards. The manager responded with a question, asking how differently his selections might have been judged if Defoe had scored twice. Capello went on to say that Crouch is "one of the most important players in the squad", yet he is one to whom the manager has so far turned only in moments of need, rather than out of choice. There was something impressive about the manner in which the Tottenham Hotspur striker took his two goals. The first, within 11 minutes of his introduction, came as he converted Gareth Barry's right-wing cross without breaking stride. The second was at least a yard offside, but Crouch's finish, this time from a Wright-Phillips cross, was again composed. In between, Wright-Phillips, in a cameo appearance that will have delighted Capello, scored with a speculative shot that will give Essam El Hadary, the Egypt goalkeeper, nightmares. It was a strange night. England had trailed 1-0 at half-time after Mohamed Zidan, the forward, had capitalised on a calamitous slip from Matthew Upson. At that point, the atmosphere seemed fragile, as if the mild derision initially aimed at John Terry could transform at any minute into dissatisfaction with the whole team, but a much-improved second-half display, embellished by the goals from Crouch and Wright-Phillips, changed the mood considerably. This was no game on which to draw conclusions about England's prospects of winning the World Cup — it was selected as preparation for the group match against Algeria on June 18 — but it served as a useful exercise. Capello will have learnt little new about Robert Green, whose selection led to theories that he may be the favoured option in goal, but, while Upson's slip was costly, Leighton Baines recovered from a nervous start on his debut at left back, in contrast to Walcott, who began well on the right wing but faded. Upson's slip for Zidan's goal, in the 23rd minute, was a blot on his copybook, but it was a loss of footing not of concentration or a lack of technique. As Hosny Abd Rabou sent a pass into the area behind the England back four, the West Ham United defender stumbled, leaving Zidan to control the ball elegantly with his first touch before planting a shot past Green with his second. And with that, the couple of thousand Egypt supporters at the other end of the ground celebrated almost as joyously as when their team won the Africa Cup of Nations in January. England had been poor — albeit having missed four good chances, with two each falling to Defoe and Frank Lampard — but, with Rooney repeatedly exhorting his team-mates to raise their game, they improved after the break. Capello had the big-man, little-man combination he has always favoured and it paid dividends as a studied build-up involving Michael Carrick and Steven Gerrard released Barry, who allowed Crouch to finish in style. By now, the momentum was firmly with England. Rooney went close a couple of times before Wright-Phillips secured victory with a right-foot shot that came through a crowd and somehow beat El Hadary in the centre of the goal. Goals have always been seen as a bonus where Wright-Phillips is concerned, but what followed five minutes later, as he got down the right and set up Crouch for the third with a measured pass, will have given Capello some welcome food for thought. The other big positive of the evening was Terry. On a night when even Capello had expressed concerns that the defender, stripped of the captaincy after revelations about his private life, might be jeered by the crowd, Terry recovered from a hesitant start to hold a makeshift back four together in the second half. By the end, his every interception and tackle drew applause from the vast majority of the crowd and it was as if the unedifying circus of the past weeks had not affected him at all. That brought a smile to Capello's face. The performances of Crouch and Wright-Phillips, on the other hand, gave him plenty to mull over.

3  England

Manager: Fabio Capello

1  Egypt

Manager: Hassan Shehata

Goals:

Peter Crouch 56 G
Shaun Wright-Phillips 75 G
Peter Crouch 80 G

Goals:

Mohamed Zidan 23 G

Starting lineup:

Goalkeeper Rob Green
Defender Wes Brown
Defender/Centre back John Terry
Defender/Centre back Matthew Upson
Defender/Midfielder Gareth Barry
Defender/Left back Leighton Baines
Midfielder Steven Gerrard (captain)
Midfielder Frank Lampard
Midfielder/Forward Theo Walcott
Forward Jermain Defoe
Forward Wayne Rooney

Starting lineup:

Goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary
Defender Wael Gomaa
Defender Sayed Moawad
Defender Hany Said
Defender/Midfielder Ahmed Elmohamady
Defender/Midfielder Ahmed Fathi
Defender/Midfielder Hossam Ghaly
Midfielder Hosni Abd Rabou
Midfielder/Forward Ahmed Hassan (captain)
Forward Emad Moteab
Forward Mohamed Zidan

Substitutions:

Michael Carrick for Frank Lampard 46
Peter Crouch for Jermain Defoe 46
Shaun Wright-Phillips for Theo Walcott 57
James Milner for Steven Gerrard 73
Carlton Cole for Wayne Rooney 86

Substitutions:

Gedo for Ahmed Hassan 64
Amr Zaki for Emad Moteab 64
Mohamed Abdel-Shafy for Sayed Moawad 76
Mohamed Aboutrika for Mohamed Zidan 76
Moatasem Salem for Hany Said 86

Cards:

Cards:

Ahmed Fathi 67 Y

On the bench:

Goalkeeper Joe Hart
Goalkeeper David James
Defender/Centre back Joleon Lescott
Defender/Centre back Ryan Shawcross
Defender/Midfielder James Milner
Defender/Midfielder Stephen Warnock
Midfielder David Beckham
Midfielder Michael Carrick
Midfielder Stewart Downing
Midfielder/Forward Shaun Wright-Phillips
Forward Carlton Cole
Forward Peter Crouch
Forward Emile Heskey

On the bench:

Goalkeeper Abdelwahed El Sayed
Defender Moatasem Salem
Midfielder Mohamed Aboutrika
Midfielder Ahmed Eid
Midfielder Abdelaziz Tawfik
Forward Gedo
Forward Al Sayed Hamdi
Forward Ahmed Raouf
Forward Amr Zaki

Comments:

League position: 16th

Comments:

League position: 24th