Int Football – Terry makes amends as England impress
Terry and Steven Gerrard gave England a well-earned victory against a spirited but technically inferior American side in a match that saw the hosts play some entertaining passing football.
There was a convivial atmosphere even before kick-off with David Beckham awarded a golden cap by fellow England centurion Sir Bobby Charlton as he made his 101st international appearance.
It was fitting for Beckham that he should play – and be heavily involved – against the nation that currently pays his lucrative wages.
It went a small way to help banish the anguish of Terry’s missed penalty against Manchester United in the Champions League final and he was congratulated by players from both clubs as they put their differences aside and looked to support their on-pitch leader.
Gerrard doubled the lead with a cool, low finish past substitute keeper Brad Guzan just before the hour mark after a delicately clipped through ball from Gareth Barry, who had been introduced for a nondescript and visibly tired Frank Lampard only minutes earlier.
Otherwise England played in the typical style of manager Fabio Capello – assured, patient and organised.
They also added a flourish to the passing game the Italian is trying to introduce and, by the end of the match, the crowd sounded their appreciation vocally.
In truth, the USA were little better than average, although they were as industrious and well-drilled as befits a side who have played in five consecutive World Cups.
Eddie Johnson looked better than the player who has thus far failed to score since he joined Fulham in January, while Riccardo Clark was niggly enough in midfield to draw a frustrated response from opposing midfielder Owen Hargreaves that earned the pair a talking-to from fussy referee Kyros Vassaras.
Johnson could have even levelled the match just after the start of the second half, but his expert volley flashed inches wide with England still sleepy from their half-time tea.
England should have been several goals to the good by that point, with one negative aspect of the performance being Jermain Defoe‘s continued inability to transfer his goalscoring ability at club level to the senior international stage.
On-fire for new team Portsmouth, the former Tottenham and West Ham striker missed several clear-cut chances to increase his meagre England tally of three goals in 28 games.
Strike partner Wayne Rooney, meanwhile, relished having the attacking foil he has recently missed for England and was able to drop deep and wide, and he created space and executed the tricks that have delighted Manchester United fans this season.
Other positives for the hosts were an inspired 45 minutes from Beckham, a solid half from replacement David Bentley and man-of-the-match Gerrard’s performance on the left side of midfield, which was perfectly complemented by Hargreaves and – on his introduction – Liverpool target Barry.
The visitors had some brief spells of pressure but, with a trip to the warmer climes of Trinidad and Tobago coming up, Capello and his backroom staff will be confident that England have the on-pitch understanding to hit the ground running when their World Cup qualification campaign begins in the autumn.