England humiliated by Denmark
By Patrick Goss
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
England were humiliated in a 4-1 defeat to a buoyant Denmark.England once again suffered an ignominious defeat in an international friendly, with Denmark taking advantage of a shambolic second half performance to pick up a 4-1 victory.
Sven Goran Eriksson's side had looked in charge in the first half, but after a spate of changes at the break, were put to the sword by an increasingly delirious Denmark side.
Dennis Rommedahl, Jon Dahl Tomasson and debutants Michael Gravgaard and Soren Larsen all took advantage of individual errors, terrible marking and, frankly, pathetic defending to seal a victory that will shatter England's confidence ahead of a crunch qualifier against Wales in under a month.
Only a late consolation strike from Wayne Rooney, whose commitment was beyond censure, gave a huge travelling support a brief moment of pleasure at the tail-end of a miserable match.
A fascinating first half had been played at anything but friendly pace - with Denmark starting strongly but quickly bowed by England's confidence.
With Rooney at the heart of everything, it was a wonder that England had not taken a lead.
A clever free-kick routine presented the first opportunity, David Beckham shaping to shoot but playing it instead to former Manchester United team-mate Gary Neville, whose header was only a tightly gripped shirt away from being turned in by the lurking John Terry.
The captain has yet to start his season for Real, but he looked in good shape, firing a shot narrowly wide and then capitalising on a Sorensen error to fire in a cross that just evaded Jermain Defoe.
Rooney's frustration was there for all to see when he erupted past a defender and slotted home, only for a foul to be given against him, and Defoe had a big chance to cement his starting place for the Wales game, but fluffed his lines and watched his mis-hit effort saved by Thomas Sorensen.
Frank Lampard had a shot blocked before Claus Jensen finally made Paul Robinson work with a curler that the Spurs man was always in control of and Rooney was left apoplectic when clearly tugged back in the box as he attempted to get to a Neville cross.
Half time saw Michael Owen on for Defoe cutting short the Tottenham striker's warm-up for what is highly likely to be a starting place against Wales in the forthcoming World Cup qualifier, but it was the replacement of Terry and Neville, for Glenn Johnson and Jamie Carragher, that most impacted on the game.
England looked uncomfortable with the new personnel, and after a warning when Thomas Kahlenberg was caught offside, went behind to a lightning break.
Another substitute, David James, was at fault, rushing out to try to cut out a long ball for Tomasson, missing the ball and player and watching in horror as the Stuttgart man escaped Ashley Cole's diving tackle and crossed for the simplest of tap ins for Rommedahl.
Minutes later it got worse for England, Jensen giving Glen Johnson the slip and crossing, Ashley Cole blocking but unable to prevent Rommedahl's header back in being nudged home from close range by Tomasson.
The vociferous travelling support could not believe their eyes at the shambles that their side were in, and with England reeling it became 3-0 when debutant Gravgaard escaped marker Carragher to power in a header that Joe Cole could only help into the back of the net.
England did, at the very least, rally, Owen hitting the side netting and both Rooney and Ashley Cole breaking forward but choosing the wrong option after getting into the box.
Finally, Rooney got the break that he, and pretty much only he, deserved - picked out superbly by Beckham to finish with aplomb and grab a consolation for the beleaguered England side.
Unbelievably the humiliation was not over, England caught once more on the break and looking on as Larsen grabbed number four, racing clear and rolling the ball past James.
Time and time again the system of international friendlies has been criticised, but if nothing else this game has served to illustrate that England, for all the talk of contending for the World Cup, are not good enough to rest on their laurels.England v Denmark player ratings
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|7||Shots on Target||3|
|3||Shots off Target||5|