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Newz Forum: SOCCER: England beat Croatia to set up clash with Portugal

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posted on Jun, 21 2004 @ 04:17 PM
Wayne Rooney enhanced his growing reputation with two goals as England beat Croatia 4-2 to book their place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2004.The Everton forward illuminated Estadio da Luz with a stunning brace to set up a mouth-watering date against hosts Portugal on Thursday.

England suffered the worst possible start in their bid to avoid defeat when they conceded a sloppy goal after just five minutes of the crucial contest.

David Beckham needlessly conceded a free kick on the left flank, which was whipped in by Milan Rapaic. Ashley Cole's attempted clearance only forced David James into a point-blank save and Niko Kovac reacted swiftest to poke the ball over the line.

But Scholes' close-range header drew England level and Rooney then arrowed a shot past keeper Tomislav Butina. In the second half Rooney beat Butina with a cool finish and although Igor Tudor scored for Croatia, Lampard added a fourth with a run and a shot.

Cometh the hour, cometh the boy. However, Rooney not only struck twice for the second consecutive game, making him the tournament's leading scorer so far. In leading his side to victory against Croatia, the 18-year-old striker also showed his maturity in avoiding the booking that would have ruled him out of an appetising clash against hosts Portugal.

While Rooney struck his first England goals for all of four days, England's other first-half scorer in Lisbon had waited rather longer to find the net. It was June 6, 2001 that Paul Scholes last struck for his country, an incredible barren run that had encompassed 30 internationals. However, he was on hand to enable England to recover from the early setback of Niko Kovac's fifth-minute strike.

Croatia: Butina, Simic (Srna 67), Robert Kovac (Mornar 45), Simunic, Zivkovic, Rosso, Tudor, Niko Kovac, Rapaic (Olic 55), Prso, Sokota.
Subs not used: Babic, Bjelica, Didulica, Klasnic, Leko, Neretljak, Tokic, Tomas, Vasilj.

Booked: Simic.

England: James, Gary Neville, Terry, Campbell, Ashley Cole, Beckham, Gerrard, Lampard (Phil Neville 84), Scholes (King 70), Owen, Rooney (Vassell 72).
Subs not used: Bridge, Butt, Carragher, Joe Cole, Dyer, Hargreaves, Heskey, Robinson, Walker.

Attendance: 63,000.

Referee: Pierluigi Collina (Italy).

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