13 November, 2005

Ing-er-lund, Ing-er-lund, Ing-er-lund

Big weekend for English sport: a rare occasion of national teams in three major team sports – soccer, rugby union and cricket – involved in action on the same day. Add to that, Great Britain’s rugby league side also played on Saturday.

At the "home of Rugby", England’s XV laboured to beat an under strength and frankly quite ordinary Australia side. England are defending world champions, but have done little since their famous victory in Sydney two years ago. The build up to the next World Cup in 2007 starts here.

Another English team coming off a great win is the cricket eleven. Saturday saw the start of the First Test against Pakistan. It’s only couple of months since the Ashes triumph, but Pakistan is a tough challenge. Through two of the five days, England have shown no hangover from beating Australia this summer. England should overhaul Pakistan’s first innings score and look to set up a victory.

The big story this weekend though was the “unfriendly friendly”. On neutral soil, Geneva, England’s soccer team battled World Cup second favourites Argentina.

Remember, this is a friendly only. Rubbish. With a war and half a dozen tough matches in both World Cup and non-competitive situations, this was always going to be a no-holds barred contest.

Argentina certainly looked a fluid, dangerous and skilful attacking side. With world-class players such as Riquelme, Zanetti and Crespo England had their hands full. The same could be said for the opposition as Owen, Rooney and Lampard are some of Europe’s finest.

The match saw five goals, woodwork struck, penalty claims, half a dozen great saves and lots of hard tackling.

England had to battle back twice from 1-0 and 2-1. Goals in the 87th and 92nd minute by Michael Owen crowned a stellar performance by England. On this form, England can legitimately hold hope fo good progress in next year’s World Cup.

Yet. It was a friendly. At 2-1, Argentina noticeably slowed. Riquelme and Crespo were substituted late on before England equalised and than scored a winner. No complaints though. Beating an Argentine side that came to play and win is something to shout about. It sets things up nicely for next summer.


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