Humiliation for England


LONDON: Australia sent England crashing to their most humiliating international defeat for 53 years on Wednesday with a 3-1 victory over their oldest sporting rivals at Upton Park. 

Although England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson experimented by playing two completely different line-ups in the first and second halves, Australia were better for most of the 90 minutes and thoroughly deserved their first-ever football victory over England. 

England were not the only big guns to suffer on a day of surprises in more than 30 internationals around the globe. 

Other former World Cup winners France, Argentina and Germany all lost, while current world champions Brazil were held to a 0-0 draw in China. 

England goalkeeper Paul Robinson is a beaten man as Australia's Brett Emerton celebrates scoring his team's third goal in their international friendly match at Upton Park in London on Wednesday. The Australians won 3-1.

Italy bucked the trend with a 1-0 victory over Portugal in Genoa. 

France lost 2-0 in Paris to the Czech Republic, while Germany, runners-up to Brazil in the World Cup final last summer, lost 3-1 to Spain in Mallorca where Raul scored twice, once from the penalty spot, to become Spain's highest-ever scorer with 31 goals.  

Italy scored a morale-boosting success over Euro 2004 hosts Portugal in Genoa with a 62nd-minute goal by debutant Bernardo Corradi while Holland beat Argentina 1-0 in Amsterdam with a stunning late strike from substitute Giovanni van Bronckhorst. 

Elsewhere, Ireland beat Scotland 2-0 in Glasgow in their first game under new manager Brian Kerr and Switzerland were the biggest winners anywhere, crushing Slovenia 5-1 in Ljubliana. 

There were different degrees of success too for Azerbaijan, Israel, and Tunisia. 

In the night's only Euro 2004 qualifier, Azerbaijan picked up the first point of their Group Nine qualifying campaign with a 2-2 draw against Serbia and Montenegro, playing under their new name for the first time since dropping their old identity of Yugoslavia. 

Israel, playing at home for the first time since October 2001 because of restrictions imposed by UEFA in view of the political tension in the Middle East, beat Armenia 2-0 in a Tel Aviv friendly. 

Israeli coach Avraham Grant said afterwards that actually playing the match in Israel was more important than the result. 

“Today, we showed the rest of the world that football can be played in Israel and terror must not be allowed to prevail,” he said. 

In north Africa, Egypt had two players sent off and crashed to a 4-1 Cairo defeat to Denmark, while Canada beat Libya 4-2 in Tripoli, Tunisia beat Sweden 1-0 in Tunis and Belgium won 3-1 in Algeria. 

Tunisia scored their impressive win over the Swedes with debutant Najeh Braham scoring early in the second half to give former France manager Roger Lemerre his first win as Tunisia's coach. 

Sweden, though, squandered a chance to save the match when Anders Svensson missed a penalty 10 minutes from time. 

The excitement of two African teams playing in Europe proved almost too much for their fans in Paris. 

Senegal, who made a big impact in the World Cup Finals last year when they beat France in the opening match, made less of one in the French capital, losing 1-0 to Morocco after a pitch invasion by the fans delayed the kickoff for two hours. 

But the biggest upset anywhere came at Upton Park. West Ham have failed to win at home there all season and England looked similarly toothless against the impressive Aussies. The visitors established a 2-0 halftime lead through a 17th minute Tony Popovic header and a superbly-taken individual goal by Harry Kewell after 42 minutes. 

England sent on 11 new, mostly young, players for the second half and Francis Jeffers scored on his debut after 69 minutes. 

However Brett Emerton added Australia's third six minutes from time to complete England's most embarrassing reverse since their 1-0 defeat to the US in the 1950 World Cup Finals. 

One bright point for England was the impressive debut of Everton striker Wayne Rooney, who at 17 years 111 days old, became his country's youngest-ever player, beating the record that had stood since 1879. 

World champions Brazil were in action earlier in the day but gave a lethargic performance in a 0-0 draw in China, a result greeted with delight by the Chinese fans after their team lost 4-0 to Brazil in the World Cup last year. 

China could have won the match with sharper finishing, but Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira blamed jet-lag for his team's lacklustre performance. – Reuters 

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