Record breaking Owen seals win
By Tom Adams. Last Updated: 31/05/05 10:51pm
Whilst most of the pre-match focus was on Peter Crouch's debut in England's experimental tour, it was his trusted and experienced strike partner Michael Owen who stole the headlines with a record breaking hat-trick in England's 3-2 win over Colombia.
Sven Goran Eriksson's side signed off their American tour as the Real Madrid man took his personal international tally up to 32, and into clear fourth in the all-time scorers list past Alan Shearer, Nat Lofthouse and Sir Tom Finney.
England twice held a two-goal lead thanks to Owen's opportunism, although an embarrassing header from Paris Saint Germain's Mario Yepes and a further strike from Aldo Leao Ramirez ensured that the South Americans restored some pride.
The game saw further experience for those on the fringes of Eriksson's squad, although the Swede had his most trusted performer to thank as an experimental defence proved vulnerable at the back.
Joe Cole could have given Eriksson's men a flying start after just 40 seconds as the Chelsea man picked up a chipped Jermaine Jenas pass - although fired well over after cutting inside to open up a good sight on goal.
Colombia then took charge of the early stages with a series of corners and long range shots to test the makeshift defensive partnership of Zat Knight and Glen Johnson, as Hayder Palacio and Hector Hurtado both kept David James alert in the England goal.
James was on hand to deny John Restrepo, before he tipped Luis Rey's shot wide after the striker robbed a guilty Johnson and drove in a low left foot shot.
It was Joe Cole again who provided a reminder that England were a threat as he jinked expertly through the Colombian rearguard - although failed to test Faryd Mondragon with his shot.
England were proving vulnerable to the through ball down the right wing, and when Juan Pablo Angel sprung the offside trap the Aston Villa striker should have done better than his weak, wide effort.
Eriksson's men then showed their class when Owen grabbed his first milestone strike, as he coolly chipped in his 30th goal after Joe Cole's probing run and reverse pass exposed the South Americans' back-line - although the Colombian staff were incensed as they suspected offside.
Minutes later Owen became The Three Lions' fourth all-time record goalscorer, as Crouch showed good awareness to play in Owen down the right, and he found acres of space to slip his second of the game past Mondragon.
However England's joy was immediately cut short in embarrassing fashion, as Yepes headed at goal and James and Ashley Cole contrived between themselves to allow the ball to sneak inside the right hand post when either could have cleared.
David Beckham - who claimed his first England goal with a free kick past Mondragon in the 1998 World Cup - passed up the chance to beat him again with a set-piece as his curling effort was tipped wide after the break.
Then, after Jair Benitez struck firmly to test substitute debutant Robert Green, Owen grabbed his hat-trick as he out-thought Yepes in the box to reach Beckham's swirling cross - although the goal owed much to a fortuitous connection with his knee.
Colombia immediately gave a warning that they were far from dead and buried as Rey found space away from Knight and crashed a shot off the bar, and Green had to be alert as the deflection nearly found its way in off his back.
Green found his early minutes of international football to be busy ones as he was again called on to tip Luis Perea's strong header wide of the post just five minutes later, before Rey kept his gloves warm with a long range free kick.
The Norwich man was finally beaten as England were pegged back, when Ramirez slotted in after Alan Smith failed to intercept Benitez's inventive scoop over the England back-line.
Colombia continued to search for an equaliser, and Rey again proved to be the danger man as he stole in past Johnson - although from a tight angle he failed to beat Green at his near post.
In the dying seconds Edixon Perea was gifted a golden opportunity to restore parity, although after beating the offside trap the Colombia man could only draw a weak shot past a relieved Green as England held on to claim a 100 percent record in their end-of-season trip.
|2||1st Half Goals||1|
|5||Shots on Target||12|
|2||Shots off Target||14|