WORLD CUP : Walcott makes history in England win

Manchester, May 31 :

Steven Gerrard, John Terry and Peter Crouch scored a goal each to lead England over Hungary 3-1 in a World Cup warmup match.

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson experimented with a new playing style only 11 days before his team’s first World Cup match against Paraguay on June 10. Gerrard and Terry scored off headers within four minutes of each other at Old Trafford, and substitute Crouch added the third in the 84th minute.

The match also marked the international debut of Theo Walcott, who became England’s youngest-ever international at 17 years, 75 days when he came on in the 65th minute, breaking Wayne Rooney’s record. He nearly scored in the 88th but his shot went wide.

Rooney was 17 years, 111 days, when he was substituted into a 3-1 friendly defeat to Australia in February 2003. Walcott played 30 minutes against Belarus, but it didn’t count in the record books. In a new formation, Gerrard played as a second striker to Michael Owen, with Jamie Carragher — normally a fullback — playing in defensive midfield.

Gerrard scored in the 47th with a glancing header from the edge of the six-yard box from David Beckham’s long-range free kick. In the 51st, another free kick from Beckham found Terry, who headed the ball past the near post.

“I felt good. That’s my job to set goals up and I was lucky to have a few chances,” Beckham said. “We finished them off well.”

Crouch, who came on for Gerrard in the 65th, took a cross from Joe Cole and turned to score into the far corner. Eriksson’s bold experimentation came less than two weeks before England’s opening match against Paraguay. He said on Monday the team which started on Tuesday would likely line up in Frankfurt but wouldn’t confirm it afterward.

Pal Dardai made it 2-1 in the 55th, with Owen Hargreaves, who came on for Gary Neville at halftime, failing to stop the Hungary captain from curling his kick into the top corner. Neville came off as a precaution after feeling pain in hamstring.

In Salerno, Italy, Maxi Rodriguez and Juan Pablo Sorin scored first-half goals as Argentina beat Angola 2-0 in a warmup match. Argentina also produced scoring chances in the second half but Rodriguez struck the crossbar and Pablo Aimar hit the post.

Long-injured Lionel Messi appeared as a substitute in the 63rd minute and proved fit and imaginative. The FC Barcelona star showed classy moves, and his shot on goal in the 88th curled just wide.

In other matches, it’s: Czech Republic 1, Costa Rica 0; Poland 1, Colombia 2; Chile 1, Ivory Coast 1.

Germany labour hard against Japan

LEVERKUSEN: FIFA World Cup hosts Germany came from two goals down to snatch a 2-2 draw with Japan in a warm-up game.

Naohiro Takahara struck two fine goals to give Japan a 2-0 lead by the 65th minute and the visitors might have had more as Germany turned in a shocking defensive display.

Germany, who had Michael Ballack back in the side after injury, were stung into reaction by that second goal and replied when Miroslav Klose bundled in a Bastian Schweinsteiger free-kick in the 76th minute. Four minutes later, Schweinsteiger headed in a Bernd Schneider free-kick to salvage a draw.