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England beat Mexico at Wembley

England goalscorers Glen Johnson and Peter Crouch floored Mexico at Wembley last night as Fabio Capello’s World Cup preparations gathered pace.

Midfielder Steven Gerrard revealed manager Capello had demanded more aggression from the team at half-time as his side secured a 3-1 friendly win over Mexico at Wembley.

Mexico were allowed to dominate possession in the first half, although England went in 2-1 ahead at the interval after goals following set-pieces from Ledley King and Peter Crouch.

Guillermo Franco scored on the stroke of half-time before a superlative effort from Glen Johnson early in the second period put the game beyond the visitors.

“The manager wanted more aggression from the whole team,” Gerrard said.

“They had too much possession in the first half, we stood off them and let them play.

“In the second half we got in their faces and stopped them playing. We need to be more aggressive.

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“We need to be able to adapt to different formations during a game and also for different opposition, that's down to the manager and what he decides to go with.

“We can play better than we did tonight, there's still time to sharpen up and we'll go (to South Africa) and give it our best shot.”

King, making his first England appearance for almost three years, said: “It wasn't one of my best games, but it was tough out there.

“They're a good side, they move the ball quickly and the manager made his feelings known at half-time that we weren't getting tight enough but we came out in the second half and did a lot better.

“The knee is getting better, the more I play the better I get.”

Asked whether he could cope with the tough schedule in the World Cup group phase, King added: “I've done it this season (with Tottenham) so why not?

“The medical staff are doing a great job getting me prepared for the games, but it's down to the manager.”

England signed off at Wembley with more questions than answers.

Capello watched Mexico create far too many first-half openings for comfort, suggesting there is still much to do before the main event.

Quite how the Three Lions were ahead at the break was beyond rational explanation.

Handed his eighth start in 10 internationals, Robert Green made two excellent saves, had a post rattled and conceded in stoppage time.

Yet he handed the gloves to Joe Hart at half-time a winner.

England's recurring defensive problems stemmed from an inability to subdue Giovani dos Santos, who hardly set the world alight at Spurs but showed why they paid nearly £5million to sign him.

It was Dos Santos who provided the return pass which opened up the entire goal for Carlos Vela to aim at. He went for the bit Green was filling.

Carlos Salcido then curled a rebound against a post after Milner had blocked his initial shot before Vela outpaced Johnson and brought another good save out of Green.

On his first appearance since 2007, King scored a perfect goal for his troublesome knees, pushing off one leg rather than actually jumping to steer home Crouch's nod-back from six yards after the Tottenham striker had pulled to the far post to meet Steven Gerrard's deep corner.

King did lose his bearings quite badly in the opening stages as he tried to keep tabs on Dos Santos and it was easy to imagine what damage someone like Lionel Messi would do.

As the contest wore on though, the Tottenham skipper improved and he must be reasonably confident of being amongst the 23 names Capello unveils to the world on June 1.

It has long since been established that Crouch simply cannot be left out. When Gerrard curled a beautiful cross onto the head of Wayne Rooney and Oscar Perez acrobatically touched it onto the bar, who better to have standing on the line than the 6ft 7in beanpole, who nudged home his 21st England goal — the same number as Kevin Keegan and Mike Channon and joint 16th on the all-time list.

Guillermo Franco did pull one back for Mexico after Leighton Baines' attempted goalline clearance fell kindly, but Johnson responded straight after the interval with a sensational first England goal, collecting Theo Walcott's square ball then stepping past three defenders before producing a thunderbolt finish with his left foot that completed the scoring.

Right at the death, there was also a six-minute debut for Adam Johnson, who lit up the stadium with a couple of mazy runs.

But England head back to their Austrian mountain retreat tomorrow, by which time injuries to Gareth Barry and Darren Bent will have been assessed.


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