Bent, Young give England victory, Rooney lacks fire
With Bent looking sharp and Carroll due back from injury, who needs lacklustre Wayne Rooney?
Denmark 1 England 2. Goals from Darren Bent (above, right) and Ashley Young helped England to a 2-1 win in Copenhagen last night, a victory that pleased coach Fabio Capello ahead of next month's Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales. "I am really happy with this result. I saw the spirit of the team and that's very important," said Capello. "All the players did well. It is not easy to play here and win."
England went a goal down to a Daniel Agger header on seven minutes but Bent levelled three minutes later, tapping in Theo Walcott's cross at the far post. Young, who replaced Wayne Rooney at half-time then gave England the lead on 68 minutes after a good through ball from Glen Johnson.
Walcott and Young both impressed in the victory, as did 19-year-old Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, making his first full-start in an England shirt. Though he was replaced at half-time by Scott Parker, Wilshere had looked confident and composed in the opening 45 minutes. "Some new players are coming and there is good competition," said Capello. "Wilshere played well. It was not easy to play in the first half because Denmark pressed a lot but he played with a lot of confidence... I subbed him only because I said I would make six substitutions."
Wilshere revealed afterwards that he wanted to play the full 90 minutes but bowed to his coach's wishes to don his tracksuit. "At half-time I was desperate to get out but the boss said 'You have got some big games coming up for your club'," said Wilshere. "It was just good to be out there. To play with the players who were on show was just brilliant. I'm delighted and it's good to get off to a winning start on my debut. Obviously, it is a big game for your country but I think the main thing was for me to go out and play my game. Hopefully, I showed that."
Well though Wilshere and Walcott played, however, the best player on the pitch was Denmark's 18-year-old midfielder Christian Eriksen. In the first-half particularly he was the creative force behind all of the home side's attack, setting up the goal and stretching the England defence with the quality of his crosses and the weight of his passes. Eriksen's agent may well be fielding a few calls from English Premier League clubs in the coming days and weeks.
Yet despite the win, England still looked like a second-tier international side. Michael Dawson's lack of pace in defence was cruelly exposed by the Danes in the first-half and Frank Lampard – despite wearing the captain's armband – played with little passion or panache.
Then there was Wayne Rooney, as anonymous for England as he has been most of the season for Manchester United. The striker was replaced by Young at half-time and England improved as a result.
With Bent looking sharp and with Andy Caroll to return from injury, Rooney on current form doesn't deserve to start against Wales, a fact that Capello alluded to afterwards. Describing Young as "fast and technically good and always dangerous", the England coach then said: "We have players for the future but we also have Rooney, Bent, Carroll, Defoe and Crouch. I will decide who will play against Wales next, it depends on their form."
In some of last night's other international friendlies, Germany drew 1-1 with Italy, France beat Brazil 1-0 in Paris thanks to a goal from Karim Benzema, and Argentina beat Portugal 2-1 in Geneva. In an entertaining match that saw arguably the world's two best players go head to head – Lionel Messi of Argentina and Portugual's Cristian Ronaldo – it was the South Americans who went ahead through Angel Di Maria.
Ronaldo equalised for Portugal but the last word went to that man Messi, the Barcelona striker slotting home a last minute penalty for a 2-1 victory. ·
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