Classic Friendly Matches

GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 06: Frank Lampard of Chelsea controls the ball during the match against Schalke at the Veltins Arena on November 6, 2007 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.The match ended in a 1-1 tie. (Photo by Patrik Stollarz/Bongarts /Getty Images)In new manager Steve Mclaren’s first game in charge, England beat 2004 European Champions Greece 4-0 at a packed Old Trafford in a classic friendly match in 2006. Chelsea favourite John Terry scored his first goal as England captain while Liverpool’s Peter Crouch notched up a brace of goals and Terry’s Chelsea teammate, Frank Lampard, wrapped up the rout with yet another international strike.

With a point to prove after a deflating FIFA 2006 Football World Cup campaign, the England players came out all guns a blazing at the start of the match and left the field for the half-time interval four goals to the good. After a free-kick by Frank Lampard was half cleared after 14 minutes, young left winger Stuart Downing, making his first international start, put the ball back into the danger area for Terry to head home.

Tottenham’s Jermaine Defoe then split the Greek defense in the 30th minute with a through pass to Lampard whose deflected shot found its way into the back of the net to make it 2-0 in this classic friendly match. Things got better for the England team just five minutes later as the lanky Peter Crouch reacted quickly to a loose ball in the box to make it 3-0 from close range with Downing once again heavily involved in the build-up to the goal.

England’s thirteen minute goal blitz was completed when Crouch initially seemed to duck under right back Gary Neville’s cross only for Downing to whip in a sublime left footed pass which Crouch duly dispatched into the back of the Greek goalkeeper, Nikopolidis’ goal. With that, Crouch had chalked up his eighth goal in his eight England appearance in 2006 and completed the rout of Greece.

England’s display naturally tapered off in the second half, one of the con’s of international football friendlies as six substitutions were made and key players were replaced, disrupting the flow of the game. But for the 46 000 supporters at Old Trafford that night, they had nevertheless been treated to a classic friendly match.