England finish 2011 with win

England completed an unbeaten 2011 in satisfactory style as they beat Sweden for the first time since 1968 with a 1-0 success at Wembley.

Last Updated: 15/11/11 at 22:13 Post Comment

Barry: Celebrates opening goal

Barry: Celebrates opening goal

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A deflected first-half Gareth Barry header, England's landmark 2,000th goal, proved enough to secure Fabio Capello's men the win at the end of a morale-boosting week.

It was the first time the Three Lions have gone through an entire year without losing since 1996, or 1994 if you include that heart-breaking penalty shoot-out defeat to Germany at Euro 96.

However, Capello will be wary about reading too much into the triumph given how much club combat his players must slog their way through before arriving in Poland and Ukraine.

The pity was only 48,876 - the first sub-50,000 crowd at Wembley since 1998 - were there to see starring performances from Stewart Downing and official man-of-the-match Kyle Walker.

Of all the players who could have been credited with England's winner, Celtic defender Daniel Majstorovic was an unlikely candidate.

Yet, as 'own goals' would be fourth on the all-time list, maybe it was actually quite fitting the Sweden defender turned Stewart Downing's curling cross into his own net after leaping with Gareth Barry - denying the Manchester City midfielder his third international goal on his 50th appearance.

It took the 'og' tally to 43 and provided adequate reward for an opening period which flickered brightly at times without being able to maintain the glare.

Jones went close to adding a second goal five minutes before half-time when he collected a loose ball in midfield and ran through the heart of the Sweden defence only to flick an inch wide of the post when reaching the box.

On England's next attack, they who picked out Everton's Jack Rodwell with a superb cross into the Sweden box. Rodwell climbed highest, but did not require the angle he put onto the ball, so instead of it heading straight into the goal, it thudded against a post and bounced to safety.

Prompting it all at the back was John Terry.

On his first England appearance since racism allegations, which he strenuously denied, were levelled against him, the Chelsea skipper's name was read out to a mixed reception prior to kick-off.

He was not entirely foot perfect either early on, although by the break Terry had recovered his composure, helping to ensure Zlatan Ibrahimovic departed at half-time having made little impact.

Shortly after the interval Downing set up Zamora, whose goalbound shot was turned away by Jonas Olsson, before the Liverpool man drove into the area to bring another decent save from Isaksson.

Introduced for Joe Hart at half-time for his first Wembley appearance since 'that' night against Croatia, Scott Carson narrowly avoided conceding another humiliating goal when he scrambled back to claw away Sebastian Larsson's 50-yard cross-shot from underneath the crossbar.

Daniel Sturridge, meanwhile, became the third new cap of this double-header, although - initially at least - it seemed he was trying a bit too hard to reproduce his club form.

England had one more scare to overcome as they nearly paid the price for switching off in the drab final stages as Christian Wilhelmsson volleyed over from eight yards despite being completely unmarked.

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