This was a game which will largely be remembered for England's captain breaking his wrist. That said, England had planned to be without Beckham for the next friendly as Eriksson tried to figure out his team for the June competitive match against Slovakia, for which the Manchester United midfielder is suspended. This was a hard fought contest to say it was a friendly, with tackles flying.
The match got off to a great start for England when they took the lead after only 37 seconds thanks to a header from Gareth Southgate. Michael Owen was fouled by Radebe, and Beckham swung the resulting free-kick towards the Aston Villa defender who rose to knock the ball into the net. England could have had another goal from a Beckham free-kick moments later, but Owen's two attempts to score failed when his final shot went over the crossbar.
Between Fredericks and Buckley, South Africa troubled England. When Bartlett and McCarthy linked up, Danny Mills handled the ball in the area and the referee had no choice but to award a penalty. McCarthy made no mistake with his spot-kick and levelled the game in the 18th minute.
When Frank Lampard replaced Trevor Sinclair in the 58th minute, he breathed new life into the England side, which had seen Beckham leave the field injured early in the second half. The Chelsea midfielder had a hand in England's winner when he pressed forward and took a shot at Baloyi. The South African goalkeeper was unable to collect the ball and it spilled to Heskey who was waiting to slot the ball into the net.
South Africa put up a good contest, but the win went to England who now travel back to England for their next friendly.
Baloyi, Mabizela, Aaron Mokoena, Radebe, Molefe, Tebeho Mokoena (Mendu 69 mins) Macbeth Sibaya, Fredericks (Mazibuko 77
mins), Buckley, McCarthy (Manyathela 67 mins), Bartlett.
Subs Not Used: Lekgwathi, Evans, Coyle, Khanyeza, Josephs.
James (Robinson 46 mins), Mills, P Neville, R Ferdinand (Upson 46 mins), Southgate, Gerrard (Barry 82 mins), Beckham (Jenas 51 mins), Scholes (J Cole 75 mins), Sinclair (Lampard 58 mins), Heskey (Vassell 65 mins), Owen.
Subs Not Used: Walker. (Full Squad)
South Africa Goal: McCarthy (18 mins - pen)
England Goals: Southgate (1 min), Heskey (64 mins)
South Africa Cautions: Mabizela, Molefe
England Caution: Mills
Referee: Lim-Kee Chong (Mauritius)