Euro 2012 qual. – Villa duo grab goals in England win
England prepared for next month’s Euro 2012 qualifier in Wales with a 2-1 win against Denmark in their international friendly in Copenhagen.
Daniel Agger opened the scoring after just eight minutes, but Darren Bent levelled two minutes later. Bent’s Villa team-mate Ashley Young then came off the bench to score his first international goal with 20 minutes remaining to get England back to winning ways following their 2-1 home defeat to France back in November.
The victory, while not the most electrifying, will boost Fabio Capello‘s hopes of claiming a win at the Millennium Stadium, which will also have the roof on like the Parken Stadium for this match, on March 26.
Plenty of the pre-match attention was on Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere making his first England start a year to the day after making his full Premier League debut but it was another 19-year-old, Christian Eriksen, who was the most eye-catching player on show in the Danish capital.
The Ajax playmaker made his presence known in the second minute when he surged forward through the middle and slipped a through ball through to Nicklas Bendtner. The big Arsenal striker drew a good save from Joe Hart at the near post, but the offside flag was already up.
Moments later Bendtner swiped a strike well wide, but soon enough Denmark were ahead when Liverpool defender Agger capitalised on an inviting cross from Eriksen and some slack marking from John Terry and Michael Dawson to beat Hart with a diving header.
That was Agger’s fourth international goal and the fifth England have conceded to Denmark in the previous 38 minutes of playing time, following the 4-1 defeat the last time they visited the Parken Stadium in 2005.
However, they were back on level terms two minutes later when England played their way out of defence, with Wilshere heavily involved. Theo Walcott gathered Wayne Rooney’s crossfield ball, bundled his way past Simon Poulsen and squared a ball along the six-yard line to give Bent the simplest of tap-ins. After failing to score in any of his first six England appearances, Bent now has two in as many matches.
Bent then swung and missed a similar ball to Walcott’s from Milner as Eriksen continued to ask plenty of questions of England.
The teenager was unfortunate to strike the post from the edge of the box after being teed up by Bendtner before setting up Dennis Rommedahl for a strike from a tight angle which Hart had to tip round the far post and then curling in a dangerous free-kick from deep just before the break which Agger failed to connect with.
Young, Scott Parker and Gareth Barry replaced Wilshere, Rooney and Lampard at half-time, and England’s performance was undeniably lifted.
A chance-filled period just after the restart saw Bent’s header from Young’s chipped ball blocked by the diving Thomas Sorensen, Young glancing Milner’s cross at the keeper after Parker’s tackle on Poulsen initiated the attack and Bent latching on to a delightful reverse pass from Milner before firing wide of the near post.
Eriksen was rendered less effective in the second half, but he still showed his capabilities when he linked up with Rommedahl and backheeled a pass into his team-mate’s path, but the former Charlton winger’s finish was tame.
England’s superiority paid off when, just moments after coming off the bench, Stewart Downing’s pressure helped send Glen Johnson scampering down the right wing. Johnson, who had several uncertain moments defensively but always offered options going forward, squared the ball to Young, who guided a low finish past Sorensen to open his international account.
Ashley Cole, whose 87th cap saw him break Kenny Sansom’s record for England appearances by a full-back, handed the captain’s armband he had himself inherited from Lampard to Barry as he was replaced by Leighton Baines in the final 10 minutes and the Everton left-back, along with several other of England’s fringe players, helped close out a professional victory for Capello ahead of a key qualifier.