They sphinx it's tall over. It is now!

Despite this being only a meaningless friendly, over 80,000 packed Wembley last night to watch the Three Lions take on the Pharaohs.

England manager Fabio Capello believes all North African teams play in a very similar way, and so he arranged last night's friendly against Egypt so his side have some idea of what it will be like when England play Algeria in the Group Stage of this year's World Cup.

It was a fairly poor first half from England, with Zidan putting Egypt in front after 23 minutes - the first time Egypt have ever scored against England. Egypt are no mugs. They are the African Champions, having won the last three African Nations Cups and are ranked 17th in the world, and England eighth. England were booed off the pitch at half time.

But England, playing in their much-loved red shirts, were a very different proposition in the second half, stepping up the tempo and scoring three goals. Two of them came courtesy of the 6ft 7in Peter Crouch, and one from the little Shaun Wright-Phillips.

The Egypt fans brought some banter to the proceedings, many holding up signs taunting England's love cheat defender John Terry.

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Wembley

International friendly, at Wembley (Attendance: 80,602)


England 3-1 Egypt
................................................Zi dan 23
Crouch 56, 80
Wright-Phillips 75

England: Green, Brown, Terry, Upson, Baines, Walcott (Wright-Phillips 57), Lampard (Carrick 46), Barry, Gerrard (Milner 73), Rooney (Cole 86), Defoe (Crouch 46).

Subs Not Used: James, Warnock, Lescott, Shawcross, Beckham, Heskey, Downing, Hart.

Egypt: El Hadari, Al-Muhammadi, Said (Salem 86), Fathi, Gomaa, Ghaly, Moawad (Abdelshafy 76), Hassan (Nagy 64), Abd Rabou, Zidan (Aboutreika 76), Ebdelmaby (Zaki 64).

Subs Not Used: El Sayed, Fathallah, Tawfik, El Saka, Raouf, Eid, Hamdy.

England wag: this England fan arrived at the ground in a humorous frame of mind

Crouch (left) was superb for England after coming off the bench at Wembley

Peter Crouch maintained his prolific England goalscoring record as they came from behind to beat Egypt at Wembley.

The visitors rocked England when Mohamed Zidan cashed in on Matthew Upson's slip to give them the lead their early ambition merited - but Fabio Capello's side responded in style after the break to run out deserved winners.

Deposed England captain John Terry was barracked by a small minority of the Wembley crowd in the early stages, but the jeers were swiftly replaced by cheers and this victory against the highly regarded holders of the Africa Cup of Nations will have satisfied coach Capello.

Before last night, England and Egypt had only met twice before, and on each occasion the Egyptians failed to score. Their first match against each other was a friendly in 1986, which England won 4-0. Then the two teams played each other in the Group Stage of the 1990 World Cup. England won 1-0 thanks to a strike from Mark Wright which ensured England's qualification for the knockout stages.

And it was two of the Italian's substitutes, Crouch and Shaun Wright-Phillips, who made the major impact as they staked their claim for a place in England's squad for the World Cup in South Africa.

Name player: after 23 minutes the home fans were stunned when Mohamed Zidan put Egypt ahead following a slip by Matthew Upson

Crouch, on for Jermain Defoe after half-time, slid in Gareth Barry's pass to draw England level 11 minutes after the interval and Wright-Phillips scored on the rebound - with a large helping hand from Egypt keeper Essam El Hadari.

And Crouch continued his outstanding record at England level with his 20th goal in 37 games with 10 minutes left, although he appeared to be offside when he turned in another emphatic finish from an excellent Wright-Phillips delivery.

Emile Heskey appears to be Capello's preferred option as Wayne Rooney's strike partner - but once again Crouch delivered goals and made it increasingly difficult for his claims for a starting place to be ignored.

Shock: West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green kneels in frustration... the Egyptian players celebrate in similar fashion

And in the wider context, Capello will now hope victory will enable his World Cup plans to get back on track in the wake of the recent upheaval of Terry's dismissal as captain amid allegations he had a relationship with the ex-girlfriend of former team-mate Wayne Bridge - and Bridge's subsequent withdrawal from international football.

England gave a debut to Leighton Baines and the Everton defender delivered a solid display, while Robert Green may well have now moved into pole position to take the goalkeeping berth as he got the nod ahead of David James.

Terry was given a mixed reception when his name was announced, and his first touch of the ball was also jeered but there was also plenty of support for the Chelsea defender around Wembley.

Inspired: Capello took off Jermain Defoe and Frank Lampard at half time and replaced them with Michael Carrick and Peter Crouch who brought England back on level terms after 56 minute

It was the Tottenham striker's 19th goal in 37 appearances for his country

Frank Lampard wasted the opportunity to give England the start they wanted after only four minutes when he was played in by Theo Walcott, but saw his effort blocked by Egypt keeper El Hadari.

Egypt's lofty position of 17th in the world rankings marked them out as a team not to be dismissed lightly. And so it proved as they showed real attacking thrust and ability in possession to threaten England.

Debutant Baines conceded an early corner, and it needed the intervention of the unlikely figure of Defoe on the line to clear Wael Gomaa's shot off the line.

As ever, England's greatest attacking hopes rested on Rooney, and he fashioned an early opening for strike partner Defoe, but the Tottenham striker hesitated as he tried to finish the move and the Egyptian defence recovered.

Egypt's promising opening was rewarded with a goal after 23 minutes - and it was a nightmare moment for Upson, who slipped on the edge of the area as he competed with Zidan, who pounced on the unexpected opportunity to steer a composed finish beyond Green.

Lampard was uncharacteristically wasteful again as England attempted to mount a swift response, failing to connect properly after a Baines corner had caused trouble in the Egypt penalty area.

And Defoe, hoping to make the most of a rare start alongside Rooney, escaped the clutches of the Egypt defence to break into the area but his shot was palmed away by El Hadari.

Point made: after James Milner's initial shot was saved, Shaun Wright-Phillips followed up with a volley to put England ahead in the 74th minute

Capello made a double change at the break, sending on Crouch and Michael Carrick for Defoe and Lampard. And it was the giant striker who made the big impact with the equaliser after 56 minutes.

He crowned England's most fluent move of the night as Steven Gerrard found Barry, whose pass was swept home expertly by Crouch.

Rooney sparked into life and twice came close to giving England the lead. He fired off target before chasing down Barry's pass and lofted a finish over El Hadari but wide.

Sizeable contribution: four minutes later Crouch finished off his second goal after meeting a cross from Wright-Phillips. 3-1 to England

And the transformation was complete as Wright-Phillips put England ahead 15 minutes from time. Substitute James Milner, on for Gerrard, saw his shot palmed away by El Hadari, but Wright-Phillips responded with a swerving shot, which the keeper could only help into his net.

Crouch grabbed his second five minutes later when Wright-Phillips confirmed the good impression he made with an inviting cross that was again perfectly converted.
The Spurs forward appeared to be comfortably offside but he clinically took advantage of the linesman's misjudgement.

It was the final flourish on a night when Capello will hope all the focus switches back to football after recent off-the-field events.

Signs of the times: African champions Egypt arrived to in London to provide the England team with a potentially stern test at Wembley Stadium...

Spotlight: all eyes were focused on defender John Terry who made his first appearance since being stripped of the captaincy by manager Fabio Capello
Last edited by Blackleaf; Mar 4th, 2010 at 01:57 PM..
"They sphinx it's tall over. It is now!"

Not to be picky, but this makes no sense at all.
For poor puns I think it's all over now!
Quote: Originally Posted by Spade View Post

For poor puns I think it's all over now!

Oooooooooohhh, I was thinking he meant a tall "order".

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