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Football

Beckham stunner crowns England win


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Lampard's low shot struck Owen's heel before flying into the net

MANCHESTER, England -- David Beckham scored a superb goal as England beat Wales 2-0 in their Group Six World Cup tie, but then suffered a fractured rib, and earned a booking which keeps him out of Wednesday's tie in Azerbaijan.

After Frank Lampard's fourth minute shot, deflected off Michael Owen's heel, gave England a great start, Wales kept them at bay until Beckham curled in a magnificent 25-yarder.

But a petulant foul added a yellow card to the one he picked up against Austria a month ago.

England seemed to be on target for a substantial win when Owen played the ball to Lampard, whose low shot was deflected off Owen's boot past keeper Paul Jones.

Referee Terje Hauge said that he was crediting the goal to Lampard, although Owen felt he had strong claims.

"I don't want to cause an argument - at first I thought it had just hit me and gone on the same path, but seeing it now, it's taken quite a deflection," Owen said.

The Welsh had already had a setback before the match started, Andy Melville dropping out after being hurt in the warm-up. Simon Davies dropped back from midfield and Jason Koumas came off the bench to start.

Wayne Rooney was soon showing flashes of his best form and after a 20-yard run he had a low shot turned onto the post by Jones.

The Welsh defense was often under severe pressure but survived and Gary Speed had two chances for the visitors, with a volley which went over the top and header from Ryan Giggs' center.

Owen and Rooney both made threatening runs, the Manchester United teenager putting in a dazzling dribble past three defenders before a fourth deflected the ball out for a corner after Beckham had scored his stunning goal.

Beckham then hurt himself and had to go off but returned to earn his yellow card for a retaliatory foul on Ben Thatcher, before limping away for good.

An FA spokeswoman later confirmed that a second set of X-rays revealed the extent of Beckham's injury after an earlier set appeared to give him the all-clear.

But it was not immediately clear how long the injury would sideline him for.

After the match England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson praised Beckham for his goal rather than scolding him for a yellow card which earned him his ban.

Asked if he thought the booking irresponsible, Eriksson told a news conference: "No. I don't think so. Let's talk about the goal he scored instead, because that was an important goal.

"As long as it's 1-0, even if you create chances, you are never calm on the bench but 2-0 killed it. We told the players at halftime we needed a second - and it came.

Eriksson said that striker Michael Owen, who has deputised for Beckham in the past, would probably wear the captain's armband on Wednesday.

Impressed by Owen's lively performance after a difficult start to his Real Madrid career, Eriksson said: "I don't know if he'll be credited with the first goal or not, but I think he played very well.

"I haven't seen him that bright for a long time. It's good for him, good for England and probably for Real Madrid as well."

It was a bitter day though for outgoing Wales boss Mark Hughes, who had scored the only goal of the game on his international debut when these teams last met 20 years ago in Wrexham.

"We're disappointed. We'd hoped it was going to be a good day for us," the former Manchester United striker said on his return to Old Trafford.

"There were contributing factors, we lost Andy Melville minutes before the kickoff, so that disrupted us. In that initial 20-minute period, when you hope to be nice and solid, that was too disruptive for us and we conceded a deflected goal.

"At that point, it would have been very easy to go under but, fair play to the players, they dug in. In the second half, I just felt we'd got a foothold in the game and England scored a great goal."

England now have seven points from their opening three group games but the Welsh, without a win in nine competitive outings, have only two.

Poland win in Austria

Ten-man Poland survived a late onalught to secure a 3-1 victory over Austria in their qualifier in Vienna.

The defeat knocked the Austrians off the top of the group and down into third behind England and the Poles.

The visitors had Arkadiusz Radomski sent off two minutes from time but with Austria storming towards Poland's goal in the dying moments, a long through ball found Tomasz Frankowski alone in front of Alex Manninger's goal and his second attempt found the net.

Poland took the lead through Radoslaw Kaluzny after 10 minutes after Manninger could only parry a free kick from Maciej Zurawski.

The Austrians equalised thanks to Markus Schopp on the half hour, the Brescia midfielder latching on to a through ball from Rene Aufhauser before firing between Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek's legs.

Dudek saved Poland several times in the second half then Jacek Krzynowek scored from a 79th minute free kick from just outside the box before Frankowski's late strike.


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