World Cup history was made in this game today when it became the first World Cup Finals game to be decided by an own goal. It also saw the earliest goalkeeper change in the competition's history. The match itself will not be remembered for its entertainment value, however the first 20 minutes were exciting, with the ball moving at a fast pace. Perhaps the heat and humidity affected the level of play later in the game.
England took an early lead in their first World Cup 2006 game thanks to a David Beckham trademark free-kick. The Real Madrid star struck the ball from his favoured side of the pitch and Gamarra's head rose and knocked the ball past his own goalkeeper. A fantastic start to the match for Sven's men.
In the 8th minute an injury to Portugal's goalkeeper saw the first substitution of the game. It took almost 20 minutes for Paraguay to have their first shot on England's goal and when the opportunity emerged, Valdez's shot went wide.
In the 35th minuted Joe Cole played in a lovely cross to Crouch, but the Liverpool forward was prevented from getting to the ball by Paraguay's defenders. A nice combination of moves from Gerrard, Beckham (on his 90th appearance for his country) and Gary Neville (getting his 80th cap) in the 40th minute saw Lampard blaze the ball over the crossbar, while England players were waiting in the box for the ball. Not to worry as England had the most possession and Paraguay, especially the much talked about Santa Cruz, were providing little
threat to England's defence.
Just before the half-time whistle, Valdez siezed possession of the ball, and to the relief of the England fans, his shot went wide of the goal and an outstretched Robinson.
Paraguay came out for the second half looking a bit more lively as they pressed England's defence in the early stages after the break. Crouch was shown an unnecessary yellow card for dissent in the 63rd minute. England looked to be settling for a 1-0 win as the second half worn on, and this was confirmed when Crouch became the sole striker in the 83rd minute. In the end, Eriksson's tactics worked as the Three Lions took the three points but fans and critics alike will be looking for more from England in their remaining two group games.
Robinson #1, G Neville #2, Ferdinand #5, Terry #6, A Cole #6, Beckham #7 - captain, Lampard #8, Gerrard #4, J Cole #11 (Hargreaves 83 mins - #16), Owen #10 (Downing 56 mins - #20), Crouch #21.
Subs Not Used: James #13, Carson #22, Rooney #9, Campbell #12, Bridge #14, Carragher #15, Jenas #17, Carrick #18, Lennon #19, Walcott #23. (Full Squad)
Villar #1 (Bobadilla 8 mins - #22), Caniza #21, Gamarra #4, Caceres #5, Toledo #3 (Nunez 82 mins - #2), Bonet #6 (Cuevas 68 mins - #23), Acuna #10, Paredes #13, Riveros #16, Valdez #18, Santa Cruz #9.
Subs Not Used: Gomez #12, Cabanas #7, Barreto #8, Gavilan #11, Da Silva #14, Manzur #15, Montiel #17, Dos Santos #19, Lopez #20.
England Goals: Gamarra og (3 mins)
England Cautions: Gerrard (19 mins), Crouch (63 mins)
Paraguay Caution: Valdez (22 mins)
Referee: Marco Rodriguez (Mexico)