World Cup Group D
Darren Anderton and David Beckham scored spectacular goals on Friday to carry a resurgent England into the World Cup's second round with a 2-0 victory over Colombia.
The two mid fielders had arrived in France as rivals for the same position on the right, but coach Glenn Hoddle accommodated them both and was rewarded with a performance he rated eight out of 10 and a date with Argentina in St. Etienne on Tuesday.
"Overall it was a terrific performance. Tactically we got it right .. the amount of chances we created, we could have scored four or five," Hoddle said. "There's more to come from us."
But for Colombia, out of the competition after two defeats, it was a night of disappointment which left goalkeeper Farid Mondragon in tears and embattled coach Hernan Gomez confirming it was his last match in charge.
Gomez's squad, built around the ageing remnants of earlier campaigns, became the only Latin American team not to survive the first round after a campaign destroyed by internal dissent.
"You really have to say England were the better team tonight," said Gomez. "We did not have any good, penetrative attacks. England closed down all the space, defended well and did not let us play.
"We tried to change our tactics in the second half, but to no avail. England were too strong."
Romania ended as group G winners after a 1-1 draw with Tunisia and will play Croatia in Bordeaux on Tuesday.
Anderton, who had suffered two years of injury after being a major part of the team that reached the Euro '96 semi-finals, rifled his sixth goal in 21 appearances after 20 minutes.
Beckham, taking over the central midfield role filled for much of the past decade by Paul Gascoigne, contributed his first for England 10 minutes later with an imperious free kick.
The goals erased all memories of England's 2-1 defeat by Romania in Toulouse only four days ago, a setback that triggered huge pressure back home for Hoddle to include Beckham and 18-year-old striker Michael Owen from the start.
Hoddle's decision to bring in Owen, making him England's youngest World Cup player, in place of Teddy Sheringham, 32, and Beckham instead of the combative, but less creative, David Batty in central midfield was a resounding success.
Their youth, enthusiasm and, in Owen's case, pace, added energy and variety to the England attack and left Colombia, except for a brief spell midway through the second half, fully stretched and chasing shadows.
Colombia made three half-time substitutions to try and change the shape of the game, but to no avail.
"It was a very conclusive victory," said Hoddle. ``We controlled the whole game. We played very well in attack and we defended well at the back. I was delighted with the speed and movement of Michael (Owen) and Alan (Shearer).
"If we had taken half the chances we had, we could have won by four or five goals."
Backed by a 25,000-strong army of noisy but well-behaved supporters inside the Stade Felix Bollaert, England meant business from the first whistle.
Midfielder Paul Scholes had a shot parried, Shearer a header saved, and wing-back Graeme Le Saux cushioned a volley just wide before Anderton broke the deadlock.
Later, Scholes twice more went close, Shearer did everything but score at least three times and Owen, whose dribbling left Jorge Bermudez dazed and cautioned, twice ran through but was thwarted by the goalkeeper's legs.
With heir to the throne Prince Charles and his younger son Prince Harry in the stands, Hoddle and his players had every right to claim this was a performance stamped "By Royal Appointment."
Despite police fears that the fixture was too dangerous for them to attend, father and son were enthusiastically looking forward to the game as they boarded their first-class carriage for the two-hour journey to Lille.
Prince Charles was even hoping for rain. "It might make it more exciting," he said.
Prince Harry, who wore an England scarf for the game over a blue suit, shirt and tie, often attends Arsenal's home games in London and had asked his father to take him to France for one of England's World Cup games as a treat.
Originally police feared that the match against Colombia posed too great a threat to their safety. But senior members of the Royal Protection Squad decided that the trip would be safe enough. Prince William, who has just finished his O-levels, did not, however, come with them.
The princes joined more than 600 other passengers on a Eurostar from Waterloo after sending a 'good luck' message to Hoddle and his squad ahead of their crunch match.
"We will be cheering you on from the stands," they told the England team.
The message was passed around the squad members during lunch at England's hotel. "It was very much appreciated," said Football Association spokesman David Davies.
"We receive messages from the Prime
Minister regularly, but it's the first time I can remember receiving a
good luck message from members of the Royal Family."
Serna (Aristizabal 45')
De Avila (Ricard 45')
Preciado (Valencia 45')
Ince (Batty 83')
Anderton (Lee 80')
Scholes (Mcmanaman 74')
Referee: A Brizio Carter (Mexico)