On Thursday night England managed to break a new national record: the defeat to Uruguay meant that for the first time the Three Lions had lost their opening two World Cup group games. In 2006, rather than drawing the likes of Italy and Uruguay, England had Sweden, Paraguay and Trinidad & Tobago in Group B.
It meant that, instead of the Three Lions being expected to struggle as they were in the build-up to the 2014 World Cup, England were meant to win their group to secure a safer passage into the quarter-finals. That, then, required anything other than a loss to Sweden in their final group game, having already beaten the two weaker teams.
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Despite having already qualified, manager Sven-Goran Eriksson put out a strong side with the intention of winning the group. Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen started in attack. The problem with that idea, however, was that inside the first minute Owen, trying to pass the ball, had his knee buckle from underneath him, which not only saw the end of his match but his whole World Cup.
The injury, naturally, hampered the flow at the start of the game, but when it did get going England showed attacking intent. Joe Cole, in particular, seemed keen to shoot and he fired over before Rooney's drive into the box and shot was kept out by a last-minute block from Teddy Lucic. Then came the opening goal, and it was right out of the top drawer of World Cup strikes.
Cole, who had already threatened, innocuously chested down a clearance some 35 yards out and by the time Andreas Isaksson in the Sweden goal had realised that a shot was coming it had dipped over him only for him to palm it into the net. It was a moment of genius from a player at the time on top of his game, and England were flying. Rooney and Frank Lampard went close before the break, but England held their slight advantage to half time.
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England's frailties under Eriksson did not take long to resurface, however. Marcus Allback was allowed too much space from a corner six minutes into the second half and guided in a header from Tobias Linderoth's delivery. The leveller almost became the lead from another corner shortly after, but this time Allback's effort was very well saved by Paul Robinson in the England goal.
The Three Lions were well in control in the first half, but after the break they could hardly string two passes together. Yet again from a corner England could have gone behind as Lucic's header fell kindly for Olof Mellberg, who struck the crossbar with a volley. Somehow with five minutes to play Steven Gerrard scored with a superb header from a Cole cross to restore England's lead and surely make it maximum group points.
It was not to be, as they buckled under the late pressure of the kitchen sink. A long ball caused havoc in the England ranks and Henrik Larsson, quiet for much of the game, stabbed in right at the death for a share of the points. England still topped the group and their reward was a very winnable clash against Ecuador in the last 16.