World Cup news – day 18…

David Beckham became the first England player to score in three World Cups as his free kick guided Eriksson’s team past Ecuador into the last eight of the tournament.

In another tepid performance by England, there were again plus and minus points in equal measure. They swung between looking comfortable and passing the ball well with Carrick in the holding role, to spells where possession was conceded cheaply or the ball simply pumped forward for Rooney to chase with little support to speak of. John Terry and Rio Ferdinand endured a few uncomfortable moments against Carlos Tenorio and Agustin Delgado, but ultimately kept their third clean sheet in four games.

It was Terry who gifted Ecuador the first chance of the game when his botched clearance fell to Tenorio, whose shot deflected off Ashley Cole onto the bar.

Beckham made the breakthrough after an hour with a strike which reminded the nation that behind the media circus surrounding the England captain, there is a tremendously gifted footballer. He whipped his free kick in from thirty yards, beating Cristian Mora in the Ecuador goal low at his near post. 1-0 England, which bar more distinctly forgettable shooting from Lampard and some impressive tactical vomiting from Beckham, was the way it stayed. John Terry was named FIFA Man of the Match.

The bright side; Carrick generally handled the game well and Rooney looks to be returning to full fitness, while his influence on the game grew as it went on. Somewhere in this England side, there is a good ninety minute performance waiting to get out. We can only hope that it appears next Saturday when Beckham and co. will meet their old foes ‘Big’ Phil Scolari and Portugal in Gelsenkirchen.

The Portuguese reached the last eight by virtue of a 1-0 victory over Holland in Nuremburg in a match that is frankly best forgotten for both the participants and the football world in general. Maniche scored for Portugal. Pretty much everything else about the game, whilst being one of the most dramatic in World Cup history was, in short, an absolute disgrace.

This afternoon Australia will look to turn the football world on it’s head when they meet Italy in Kaiserslautern, while Andriy Shevchenko and the Ukraine seek a place in the last eight at their first attempt when they meet Switzerland, minus the injured Philippe Senderos, in Cologne.