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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
If there were any question marks still lingering over John Terry's suitability to captain England, they were blown away in Berlin with a moment of grace and humility that is all too rare in a game poisoned by money and egos. Terry could have explained away Germany's comical equaliser by blaming young goalkeeper Scott Carson for a lack of authority. He could have clouded the issue by putting it down to an ambiguous mix-up, a case of crossed wires. Instead, the Chelsea defender stood in front of the cameras and held his hands up, rightly accepting full responsibility and saving Carson's international career in the process.

Germany's goal was the only blemish on a encouraging night for England that could so easily have turned sour. Fabio Capello's continuing project, to turn a motley collection of long-ball merchants into a competitive continental powerhouse, bore fruit once again on a wet night in the German capital. Granted, there was a touch of the Sven Goran Eriksson syndrome in this 'first half good, second half not so good' display, but a 2-1 victory will be a welcome boost to morale.

Anyone tempted to dismiss this as just another friendly will have been put right by the inevitable catcalls that greeted both national anthems and the ferocity with which England went about their business in the first half. Every loose ball was fought for, Shaun-Wright Phillips managed to pick up a booking and even Jermaine Defoe was spotted flying into tackles. You certainly can't accuse this side of lacking the hunger for a fight.

Germany, by contrast, were desperately poor and relied upon a vain series of long balls as their only outlet, conceding a soft goal from a set-piece to Matthew Upson in the process. Much improved after the break, they still should have been two down when Darren Bent latched onto a superb Gareth Barry pass, rounded Tim Wiese and then, like Ricardo Gardner for Bolton at the weekend, fell over and blasted the ball wide.

Football has an unerring knack of punishing stupidity and it didn't take long to see the equilibrium restored. If Bent's miss was calamitous, then how can Germany's equaliser be described? John Terry should have either dealt with the aimless long ball or ordered Carson to clear it. He did neither and Patrick Helmes stole in to make the West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper look almost as silly as he did when he last represented his country against Croatia.

Previous incarnations of England might have stopped there and preserved a creditable draw, but there was too much to prove for too many of the side. Gabriel Agbonlahor went close, but Terry finally secured the victory, powering home a Stewart Downing free-kick from what appeared to be an offside position. It came as a relief for Capello who is experienced enough to recognise that, while this result looks good, the reckless attempts to retain possession in the second half did not.

Terry spoke well after the game about the second-string players giving the Italian manager a selection headache, but his wisest words were saved for a young man who must have picked the ball out of the net while wondering if he'd ever be called up again. A talented goalkeeper at domestic level, Carson may still get another chance. If he does, he'll know who he has to thank.

Crowd: 74,244
Yellow cards: Wright-Phillips (England)
Red cards: None
David James 7 (Scott Carson 5, 45th), Glen Johnson 7, Wayne Bridge 5, Matthew Upson 7, John Terry 6, Shaun Wright-Phillips 7, Stewart Downing 7, Michael Carrick 8, Gareth Barry 8, Gabriel Agbonlahor 8 (Ashley Young 6, 77th), Jermaine Defoe 6 (Darren Bent 6, 45th)
Rene Adler 5 (Tim Wiese 7, 45th), Heiko Westermann 7, Per Mertesacker 7, Marvin Compper 6 (Marcel Scahefer 6, 77th), Arne Freidrich 6 (Serdar Tasci 6, 68th), Simon Rolfes 6, Jermaine Jones 6 (Marco Marin 6, 45th), Piotr Trochowski 7, Bastien Schweinsteiger 7, Miroslav Klose 5 (Patrick Helmes 45th), Mario Gomez 6 (Lukasz Podolski 6, 57th)