VIDEO: Super-sub Crouch inspires England to victory
Wednesday, 03 March, 2010
Second-half comeback sees Three Lions seal win.
Stuart Mawhinney at Wembley Stadium
England picked up their first win of the year on Wednesday evening, thanks to a memorable second half performance and some telling substitutions from Fabio Capello leading to all three of the goals.
The Three Lions had found themselves a goal behind at the break following Mohamed Zidan's opener, but things were different following the re-start as substitutes Peter Crouch and Shaun Wright-Phillips fired England to victory against the African champions.
Despite a disappointing first half overall, England did start the game well and Frank Lampard had England's first effort on goal, timing his run perfectly to latch on to Theo Walcott's cross, only to be denied by the knees of Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El Hadary.
From the resulting corner, John Terry met Lampard's delivery at the near post, but his glancing header landed at the far post with no one there to capitalise on the opening.
Egypt proved with several early exchanges of passes that they were certainly not intimidated by coming to Wembley and having recently won their third successive African Cup of Nations, they are a team embued with confidence.
Zidan was at the heart of much of their attacking creation, and it was no surprise when Egypt took the lead that it was the man with such a famous football name who got on the scoresheet.
When Matthew Upson slipped as he sought to clear a lofted through ball from the left flank, Zidan pounced and within a flash he had driven the ball past Green. The six thousand away supporters were jubilant as they struck the opener in their very first visit to Wembley.
Stung by conceding the goal, England were not panicked in possession, but measured as they sought to redress the balance. Steven Gerrard, captaining his country for the first time since February 2008, drifted from his left-sided position to influence the play, while the debutant Leighton Baines raided forward to good effect.
From an inswinging Baines corner, Terry almost scored without knowing that much about it, heading the ball into an Egyptian defender only for his effort to ricochet back into Terry and almost ended up in the net.
Moments later, Defoe was played through by Rooney and despite appearing to be tugged back, he managed to unleash a fine left-foot shot that was parried away by El Hadary.
Trailing at the interval for the first time at home in his reign as England Manager, Capello made two changes and one of those substitutes would put England level. Crouch and Michael Carrick entered the fray, with Jermain Defoe and Lampard departing, and both would play a part in the equalising goal.
Eleven minutes into the second period, England finally hit their stride with a superb goal involving five players and superbly finished by Crouch. Brown and Carrick traded passes before Gerrard and Barry combined to deliver a driven ball into the path of the eager Crouch and his first time shot swept past El Hadary.
Parity was restored and Capello swiftly replaced Walcott with Wright-Phillips, another change that would reap rewards later in the game.
With Egypt firmly on the back foot, the Three Lions pressed their advantage and in one move would attempt three spectacular volleys in a matter of seconds, first Crouch, then Gerrard and Rooney but none managed to hit the target.
James Milner came on for the skipper Gerrard, and when his driven volley proved too hot to handle for El Hadary Wright-Phillips followed it up with a curling effort that put England into the lead.
Within minutes, two substitutes combined once more, with Wright-Phillips driving forward and finding Crouch unmarked in front of goal to give England a third goal and seal the man-of-the-match award for himself in the process.
That proved to be the last of the action, but Capello can certainly be pleased with the way his charges responded in the second half against a fluent and experienced Egyptian side.