England came from a goal behind to earn a 3-1 win over Egypt and put a miserable week behind them. But the scoreline belied a first half during which the visitors looked like World Cup stuff, and not the hosts.
AFP - Substitutes Peter Crouch and Shaun Wright-Phillips spared England further embarrassment as Fabio Capello's scandal-tarnished squad came from behind to register a 3-1 win over Egypt.
The recently-crowned African champions had looked on course for a landmark victory on their first appearance at Wembley when Mohamed Zidan translated their initial superiority into a first-half lead.
But Crouch's entry at the interval proved to be the catalyst for a significant improvement with the Tottenham striker bolstering his claim to a starting role at the World Cup by claiming a couple of goals either side of a strike from Wright-Phillips.
That was enough to transform an evening that had the potential to go badly wrong for Capello, with the hangover from recent off-the-pitch issues evident in the boos received by John Terry on his first outing since being stripped of the captaincy.
England were on the back foot for long spells in the opening period, but might easily have gone ahead inside five minutes, with the cocktail of Wayne Rooney's eye for a pass and Theo Walcott's pace causing tremors on the left side of the visitors' defence.
Walcott's cutback was delivered into the path of Frank Lampard but the Chelsea midfielder pushed his shot tamely at goalkeeper Essam El Hadary.
Egypt were soon in the ascendancy however and England were fortunate that the unmarked Wael Gomaa was unable to connect cleanly with a volley from eight yards out.
Zidan quickly signalled his threat by getting in front of Terry to head over the bar and, then again, when driving narrowly wide after escaping Matthew Upson on the edge of the area.
Egypt's nimble passing and penetrating wing backs were unsettling England and it was no surprise when Zidan gave the visitors a 23rd-minute lead, aided by a slip from Upson which enabled him to collect Hosny Abd Rabou's pass unchallenged.
The Borussia Dortmund striker still had plenty to do but a deft first touch denied Upson the time to recover and the shot was planted confidently beyond Robert Green's left hand.
England's best chance of an equaliser before the break fell to Lampard, after Gareth Barry's header from a Leighton Baines corner had been blocked. The Chelsea midfielder got slightly over the top of his strike and the ball bounced off the Wembley turf and up over the bar.
El Hadary did well to beat away Jermain Defoe's fierce shot after the Tottenham striker had got clear through the inside left channel, and Egypt's goalkeeper also had to be alert when another Baines corner ended up ricocheting goalwards off Terry.
Lampard and Defoe were withdrawn at the interval in favour of Michael Carrick and Crouch, whose first significant contribution was to register England's equaliser with a well-taken strike ten minutes into the second period.
Gerrard's first-time pass released Barry on the right hand side of the box and the Manchester City's midfielder's cross was crisply despatched into the bottom corner by Crouch.
Egypt's pursuit of a first win over England saw Mohamed 'Gedo' Nagy, the hero of the African Cup of Nations triumph, introduced for the final half hour.
But it the hosts who now looked more likely winners and, after Rooney had spurned the chance to finish off Barry's fine through ball, Wright-Phillips put them ahead with quarter of an hour left.
El Hadary did well to keep out James Milner's powerful first-time shot from a Baines cross and the goalkeeper was unfortunate that the loose ball fell kindly for the winger, whose shot found the net with the help of a deflection.
Five minutes later Wright-Phillips got clear on the right and picked out an offside Crouch on the edge of the six-yard area, presenting the Tottenham striker with the opportunity to claim his 20th international goal in what was only his 37th England appearance.
Date created : 2010-03-04