Beckham lifts England to victory

David Beckham scored with a free kick in the 60th minute on Sunday to lead England to a 1-0 win over Ecuador and a spot in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

Beckham sent in a curling free kick from about 25m that beat diving goalkeeper Christian Mora.

England will face either The Netherlands or Portugal on Saturday in the quarterfinals.

Beckham became the first Englishman to score in three World Cups—he converted a penalty kick against Argentina in Japan four years ago and curled in a free kick against Colombia in France in 1998.

The England captain, who had worn short sleeves in the first half, switched to long sleeves after the break. Shortly after the goal, he vomited on to the field.

For an hour, the English aimlessly passed the ball, but the game then turned after Edwin Tenorio fouled Frank Lampard outside the penalty area.

Beckham planted the ball ever so carefully as four Ecuadoreans formed a defensive wall.

With expert precision, he got the ball over them. Mora, his cheeks painted with the colours of Ecuador’s yellow-blue-and-red flag, dived to his right but could not stop the ball, which went in off the post.

Beckham ran wildly toward the centre of the field, hooking an arm around Ashley Cole.

While Beckham is the driving force of England’s offence, his goals have been sparse of late.
It was just his 17th in 93 international appearances, and he ended a 13-match scoreless streak since his last goal on March 30 last year.

But after the game, Beckham walked out to wave at the England supporters who sang Football’s Coming Home, the theme of the 1996 European Championship it had hoped to win.

The crowd in at the stadium was about 90% English supporters in white and red, many waving the country’s flag, with only a few thousand Ecuador fans at one end wearing bright yellow.

The familiar tune of Rule, Britannia! was repeatedly sung.

Ecuador, making their second World Cup appearance, had advanced to the second round for the first time.

Ecuador striker Carlos Tenorio had the first good scoring chance in the 12th minute when defender John Terry’s attempt at a clearing header popped up in the air behind him. Tenorio, one-on-one against goalkeeper Paul Robinson, settled the ball but Ashley Cole slid to deflect the ball off the crossbar.

With Michael Owen out for the rest of the World Cup, England started Wayne Rooney as their lone striker.

England were eliminated by South American teams in the previous two World Cups, losing to Brazil in the 2002 quarterfinals and getting knocked out by Argentina on penalty kicks in the second round in 1998—when Beckham was ejected for a foul one minute into the second half.—Sapa-AP

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