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It may have been just a meaningless friendly, but a crowd of over 85,000 packed into Wembley Stadium in London last night to watch in-form England's game against Slovakia, a large number that would probably never be matched anywhere else in Europe for just a friendly.

England dazzled in their new kit - a retro outfit, with plain white shirts, plain white shorts and plain white socks with red numbers on the back of the shirts and a larger-than-usual Three Lions crest with a space underneath to rwrite the name of their opponents. This no-frills, purely milky white kit is an almost exact replica of the one England wore in the 1966 World Cup, and is supposed to have been designed by a Savile Row tailor. It is the first time that blue shorts have NOT been an official part of the England kit.

England also played dazzling football, totally outplaying their poor opponents. Two goals from Wayne Rooney, one from Frank Lampard and one from Emile Heskey, his first England goal since May 2003, ensured an easy win for the Three Lions.

One of England's goals was the 500th goal England have ever scored at Wembley Stadium, old or new.

The real test will be Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley.

In an unusual chain of events during this Slovakia match, England striker Emile Heskey went off injured to be replaced by Carlton Cole. Cole himself became injured, went off, and was replaced by Peter Crouch. Crouchie himself went off injured.

David Beckham also won his 109th cap, the most of any England outfield player in history. Only former goalkeeper Peter Shilton has played more games for England.


BBC Sport
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Wembley


Friendly Match, at Wembley Stadium, London. Attendance: 85,512


VS

England 4-0 Slovakia
Heskey 7
Rooney 70,90
Lampard 82



Wayne Rooney scored twice as England eased to victory


England: James (Foster 46), Johnson, Upson, Terry, Ashley Cole, Lennon (Beckham 46), Lampard, Barry, Gerrard (Downing 46), Heskey (Carlton Cole 15), Rooney, Carlton Cole (Crouch 34), Crouch (Carrick 74).
Subs Not Used: Green, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines.

Slovakia: Senecky, Pekarik, Valachovic, Skrtel, Cech (Jendrisek 46), Sestak (Jakubko 72), Zabavnik, Karhan (Strba 83), Kozak (Sapara 62), Hamsik (Mintal 79), Vittek (Holosko 46).
Subs Not Used: Mucha, Cisovsky, Kratochvil, Dobrotka, Obzera, Kamenar.


William HILL
To Win 2010 World Cup 5-1 Brazil; 11-2 Argentina; 13-2 Spain; 9-1 England; 10-1 Italy; 11-1 Germany; 12-1 Holland; 16-1 France; 20-1 Portugal.

England warmed up for Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Ukraine with a comfortable victory over Slovakia - but coach Fabio Capello was left contemplating a potential striker shortage.

Emile Heskey set England on their way at Wembley when he turned in Steven Gerrard's cross at the near post after seven minutes.

And Wayne Rooney ensured the win for England with 20 minutes left when he headed in David Beckham's cross as the former captain produced an impressive cameo on his record-breaking 109th appearance for an outfield player.

Frank Lampard turned in a close-range effort with nine minutes left and Rooney grabbed his second in injury time to give England the emphatic victory margin their supremacy deserved.



But the gloss was taken off England's triumph by the early loss of goalscorer Heskey, as well as his replacement Carlton Cole before the interval.

Peter Crouch, another substitute, then limped off late on as Capello faced the prospect of seeing his attacking resources severely depleted.

Injuries aside, the game will have provided plenty to satisfy Capello, especially an outstanding first-half display from Gerrard and a performance of limitless energy and invention from Rooney.

This was the Rooney that Capello will have wanted to see after a red card in Manchester United's defeat at Fulham prompted the England coach to label his striker "a crazy man" - with no tantrums at Wembley, only an exhibition of the gifts that make him such a vital element of the international set-up.

Capello will have been concerned, however, by defensive frailties that meant England keeper David James had to produce two fine first-half saves from Miroslav Karhan and Robert Vittek.

Beckham's industry and quality after coming on as a half-time substitute for Aaron Lennon may also have provided Capello with food for thought as he weighs up his options ahead of Wednesday's Wembley meeting with Ukraine.

Slovakia hardly provided the sternest of tests, but England got the job done with the minimum of fuss and Capello can now turn his attentions to making it five wins out of five in a hitherto flawless World Cup campaign.

Capello handed Gerrard a role that saw Liverpool's captain patrolling the left flank, but with licence to roam at will and cause problems for Slovakia.

It did not take long for the ploy to produce dividends, with Gerrard the creator of Heskey's opening goal for England after seven minutes.

Gerrard's clever drag-back deceived Jozef Valachovic and his near-post cross was bundled home inelegantly but effectively by Heskey.

Heskey should have doubled England's advantage two minutes later, but he headed over the top after Rooney's cross left the goal at the Aston Villa striker's mercy.

And an eventful start for the striker came to a premature close after 14 minutes when he went off injured, to be replaced by Carlton Cole.

Slovakia were offering little in the way of attacking invention, but lapses in concentration from England at the back offered them encouragement their approach play barely deserved.

England were caught off-guard at a corner on the half-hour, and it needed goalkeeper James to come to the rescue with a fine diving save from Karhan.

Capello's attacking options were reduced again 11 minutes before the interval when substitute Cole went down holding his groin, paving the way for Crouch to come on.

England's best moments had come predominantly from Rooney and Gerrard, especially when they combined down the left flank - but it was Lennon who got in on the act as Slovakia came under threat once more.

10 things you didn't know about Slovakia


1 Became independent in 1993, with the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, in what was known as the 'Velvet Divorce'.
2 The capital Bratislava borders both Austria and Hungary - the only capital city in the world that borders two countries.
3 The international anthem is called 'Nad Tatrou sa blyska' or 'Lightning over the Tatras'.
4 The country takes up 48,845 square miles - 1,501 less than England.
5 Slovakiaonly adopted the Euro currency at the start of 2009 - the 16th European member to do so.
6 Their national dish is 'Bryndzove Halusky' - a mixture of potato dumplings with sheep cheese and bacon.
7 Dr Jozef Venglos, former Aston Villa and Celtic manager, is a native.
8 Former France and Middlesbrough midfielder Christian Karembeu's wife, and former Wonderbra model, Adriana, is also Slovakian-born.
9 The country's most famous club side is Slovan Bratislava - the only one to ever win a European competition (Cup Winners' Cup in 1969).
10 Ice Hockey is the most popular sport in Slovakia - they were world champions in 2002


The Spurs winger brought a fine block from Slovakian keeper Stefan Senecky, who recovered well to deny a follow-up header from Gerrard.

James was in action again after 40 minutes, turning a shot from Vittek over the top after a mix-up between Ashley Cole and Matthew Upson had let in Slovakia's captain.

Gerrard then tested Senecky with a low shot to cap an impressive 45 minutes, before he was involved in three changes made by Capello at the interval.

He was replaced by Stewart Downing, while Ben Foster replaced James and Beckham was able to add another cap to his collection at the expense of Lennon.


David Beckham and Frank Lampard celebrate England's third goal


Slovakia substitute Erik Jendrisek wasted a good opportunity to restore equality after 56 minutes, but he shot into the side-netting after finding space in the penalty area.

Beckham was proving a lively presence in the early exchanges after the break, and he almost set up a goal for Rooney. He just failed to turn in an inviting cross, with England captain John Terry firing inches wide as the loose ball dropped at his feet 20 yards out.

It was a brief reprieve for Slovakia, as Rooney and Beckham combined to give England a deserved second goal after 70 minutes.

In a prime example of Beckham's enduring quality with the ball at his feet, his cross was delivered perfectly for Rooney to rise and direct his header beyond Senecky.

The goal killed off any slim hopes of Slovakia claiming anything from this game, and England emphasised their advantage in the closing stages.

Lampard shot across Senecky to make it three with eight minutes remaining, and Rooney crowned an outstanding personal display with a flighted close-range finish in injury time.

It completed a highly satisfactory workout for Capello's England - but now the coach must wait on medical bulletins on a trio of strikers ahead of the World Cup date with Ukraine.



England 4-0 Slovakia: England's players reveal a brand new kit to the Wembley crowd as a heavy shower strikes north west London


Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard work well down the left before Gerrard provides the cross for Emile Heskey to score England's first


Heskey is mobbed by his England team-mates after scoring his first goal for his country at Wembley in just the seventh minute


England lose Heskey through injury and his replacement Carlton Cole also departs with a groin problem forcing Peter Crouch into the fray


David Beckham emerges from the bench to make his 109th appearance - the highest number by an outfield player for England


Beckham makes an impact as his fine cross is met by the impressive Rooney's powerful header in the 70th minute


Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney add late goals to complete a comfortable win for Fabio Capello's side

news.bbc.co.uk/sport
Last edited by Blackleaf; Mar 29th, 2009 at 12:03 PM..