Owen The Star

Last updated : 13 October 2005 By Footy Mad - Editor
ENGLAND: Robinson, Young, Ferdinand, Terry, Carragher, Wright-Phillips (Crouch 67), King, Lampard, Cole (Smith 87), Rooney, Owen (Jenas 84).
Subs Not Used: Neville, Kirkland, Bent, Defoe.
POLAND: Boruc, Jop, Baszczynski, Bak, Zewlakow, Sobolewski (Radomski 79), Smolarek (Krzynowek 46), Lewandowski, Kosowski, Zurawski (Frankowski 39), Rasiak.
Subs Not Used: Kowalewski, Rzasa, Mila, Klos.
Michael Owen scored one - and made one - in a superb performance for England. But it was the reaction of the crowd to a substitution that caused the manager major concern. Sven-Goran Eriksson urged the fans who barracked Peter Crouch at Old Trafford to lay off the Liverpool forward as he claimed England had turned the corner ahead of the World Cup finals.
Crouch was mocked by some supporters during the 1-0 win against Austria last Saturday and the decision to replace Shaun Wright-Phillips with the 6ft 7in striker was roundly booed during Wednesday night's 2-1 victory over Poland.
Eriksson was unsure whether the crowd had been jeering him or Crouch, although both of them drew the fans' frustration as England were being held at 1-1 by the Poles with 23 minutes left.
That frustration was replaced with an upbeat finale to England's qualifying campaign as Frank Lampard's 80th-minute winner ensured that Eriksson's side finished top of Group Six.
Eriksson declared: "I understand the crowd as he gave flair and beat people, but I think it was the right decision as he got a bad knock and he wasn't 100% right. When you need to score with 25 minutes to go, why not try Crouch and play with three strikers? It worked well this time, who knows next time?
"I don't know who was being booed, whether it was me or Peter Crouch. But we won the game and I'm sorry if anyone thinks Peter Crouch is a not a good footballer. He had played just one and a half internationals before this game. He has something which other players don't and he's good on the floor as well. It is very harsh to judge him yet."
Lampard's volley from Michael Owen's through-ball capped an encouraging display by England, reviving confidence levels after the struggles against Denmark, Wales and Northern Ireland.
With Wayne Rooney inspiring the team on his return from suspension, Owen put England ahead on 43 minutes, back-flicking Joe Cole's shot into the net from close range to equal Gary Lineker's record of 22 competitive goals for his country.
Substitute Tomasz Frankowski levelled just before the break as Luke Young, who has otherwise grown in stature over the past month, was lured out of position.
However, England rallied after the break to leave Eriksson upbeat about their chances of making an impact at next summer's tournament.
"I think the fans can be convinced that we can win the World Cup," he stressed. "I always said we would qualify. We are one of four, five or six teams who could win it with a bit of luck. I'm convinced we have a very good team."