Beckham sparks England to victory

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> David Beckham set up two goals on Wednesday to help England beat Estonia 3-0 and keep alive its hopes of reaching next summer's European Championship.

Updated: June 08, 2007 12:54 IST
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Tallinn, Estonia:

All England needed apparently was a little bit of Becks.

Former captain David Beckham, playing in only his second match since being dismissed after the World Cup, set up two goals Wednesday to help England beat Estonia 3-0 and keep alive its hopes of reaching next summer's European Championship.

Despite injuring his ankle in the 15th minute, Beckham provided second-half crosses from the right for Peter Crouch and Michael Owen to convert.

"Beckham is a very good player and deserves to be in the team," said manager Steve McClaren, who got rid of Beckham when he took over after the World Cup.

After Joe Cole put England ahead in the 37th, Crouch scored the second in the 54th by heading in a cross from Beckham, who returned to the team for the first time on Friday in a 1-1 friendly draw with Brazil.

Owen strikes

Owen's goal in the 62nd was his first for England since missing 10 months with ruptured knee ligaments.

"It was a real working performance," Cole said. "Becks was brilliant the other night (against Brazil) and he was brilliant today. You know what you're going to get from David Beckham."

Crouch headed Wayne Bridge's throw-in from the left toward Cole, who chested down the ball before shooting past Estonia goalkeeper Mart Poom.

"I knew the angle was tight and I only had a maximum of two touches," Cole said. "It was nice to see it go in, but they can easily go into the top tier of the stadium."

Cole's goal made it unlikely that England would face abuse from its fans inside A Le Coq Arena like it did in the 3-0 win over Andorra.

The win should ease criticism of McClaren and England, who were helped by Croatia's goalless draw with third-place Russia.

Croatia and Israel lead Group E with 17 points. England is fourth with 14 points.

However, four of England's last five qualifiers are at Wembley, starting with Israel in September.

"Looking at the group its in our hands," McClaren said. "Any team coming to Wembley has got to fear us the way we're playing at the moment."

John Terry made sure of the shutout by clearing a ball off the line after England goalkeeper Paul Robinson was beaten in injury time.

Estonia, which hasn't scored in qualifying, also came close in the closing seconds of the first half when Robinson denied Vladimir Voskoboinikov with his legs.

England became increasingly frustrated due to Estonia's commitment and energy from the start, although it couldn't convert any of its possession into scoring chances.

Beckham had a free kick in the fifth minute that just missed, while he crossed a ball from the right that Poom just collected in front of the advancing Owen in the ninth minute.

In the 27th, the Los Angeles Galaxy-bound midfielder had space to try a speculative shot which flew wide.

"It was clear in the first half that they were trying to find Beckham and he was coming in with great crosses," Estonia coach Jelle Goes said. "Two great deliveries - that's why he's back in the team."

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