SEVEN days too late for Chelsea’s liking, John Terry was presented with an opportunity to score and duly obliged.
There were no tears at Wembley last night but in putting England on the road to beating the United States at Wembley, Terry exorcised a few demons created by his shoot-out miss that cost victory for the Londoners in the match that so crushingly ended in defeat to Manchester United.
Steven Gerrard added a second, in a very impressive introduction to the left-wing role, to leave the rump of Capello’s squad heading off for a goodwill meeting with Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday in a contented mood, and the Italian believing improvement is being maintained.
Said the Italian: “The England team performed — all the players played very well. In every situation we chose the best way to play — the first 50 minutes the USA pressed a lot, but we played good football. [Last night] the team played like in training. The pressing and tackling were very good. It’s another step forward.”
Yet, despite boasting seven men involved in last week’s Champions League final, England enthused no-one until Terry did what he so wishes he could have done in Moscow a week ago. There were moments that caught the eye, most of which involved man-of-the-match Gerrard, but nothing that had a 70,000 crowd on the edge of their rain-sodden seats.
The visitors had already survived one lucky escape when Gerrard slotted home David Beckham’s curling free-kick, only for the goal to be ruled out because England’s newest centurion had not waited for the whistle.
When Beckham picked Gerrard out with another free-kick, the midfielder’s shot seemed to be heading into the net until Clint Dempsey got his head to it, providing Frank Lampard with a chance from the rebound which he promptly volleyed wide.
Terry put a different complexion on proceedings with his fourth goal for his country while Beckham’s departure at half-time offered David Bentley some valuable time on the pitch, although clearly it is going to take a long time for the boo-boys in the stands to forget his decision to abandon the England U21 squad prior to last summer’s European Championships.
As Capello’s substitutions mounted, Gerrard remained. Still on the left, yet in some ways not quite.
He certainly wasn’t when he cushioned a header into Wayne Rooney’s path midway through the half, only for the Manchester United man to screw his shot wide.
It was Rooney’s last chance before Joe Cole made his entrance, yet still Gerrard stayed on the left. Maybe, like Terry, Gerrard and England can look to the future with confidence.
ENGLAND: D James, W Brown (G Johnson, 57) A Cole (W Bridge, 82), O Hargreaves, R Ferdinand, J Terry, D Beckham (D Bentley, 46) F Lampard (G Barry, 57) J Defoe (P Crouch, 68) S Gerrard, WcRooney (J Cole, 78).
USA: T Howard (B Guzan, 46) C Bocanegra, M Bradley, H Pearce, S Cherundolo (F Hejduk, 46) D Beasley (E Lewis, 68) CDempsey, E Johnson (N Jaqua, 89) R Clark, J Wolff (F Adu, 68) O Onyewu.
Referee: Kyros Vassaras (Greece).
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