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England win final warm-up game
Fabio Capello will take his squad on safari on Tuesday - and one can only hope it reminds them how to perform like big-game players.

This, in fairness, was not such an occasion. But the England manager was far from happy as he looked for some improvement on those stuttering displays against Mexico and Japan.

According to Jermain Defoe, he was as angry as the players have seen him at half-time. 'To be honest, the manager wasn't happy,' he said, and that was understandable.

The pitch was perfect, the opposition under orders not to kick lumps out of their illustrious visitors, and yet England still lacked the fluency and urgency they will need against the United States when their World Cup campaign begins on Saturday.

England were so bad that even Capello got told off, albeit by a female fourth official who twice demanded he sit down before she in turn was informed by a chap in a pink jacket that a manager is entitled to stand up and tear into his team.

Joe Hart, in particular, incurred the Italian's wrath, and the goalkeeper's chances of starting on Saturday would now seem remote.

What will concern Capello most, however, is how a poor England performance seems to expose Wayne Rooney's darker side. He was out of control yesterday, swearing at the referee, flying into challenges.

Only England could send a 'Psycho' to counsel someone acting like a lunatic but Stuart Pearce was rightly instructed to tell Rooney to calm down.

As Rooney demonstrated again here at the modest Moruleng Stadium, he remains every inch England's best player. He scored a super goal, his first since returning from injury, and created one for Joe Cole, England's first coming before the break from Defoe.

But Jeff Selogilwe, the local referee in charge of this training game, was right not only to caution Rooney but to warn of what will happen if he behaves badly during the tournament.

Rooney has to learn to respect the officials and fast, as well as keep a lid on that temper when his team-mates prove lesser beings than himself. Capello is sure to have words with him.

Confident coach that he is, Capello will believe that all will be well when his full-strength side play in Rustenburg this weekend.

It was not just a game of two climates - the hot afternoon sun of the first half making way for the cool evening temperatures England prefer - but a game of two half-teams.

In the first half we probably saw what Capello had in mind for defence and central midfield against the USA. In front of Hart a back four of Glen Johnson, Ledley King, John Terry and Ashley Cole with a midfield pairing of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

In the second half Capello started with what could be his front four.

Rooney and Emile Heskey in attack with Aaron Lennon and Joe Cole wide.

Hart's poor distribution in a nervous first-half display infuriated Capello on three separate occasions. After the break Robert Green looked much more assured, although it would be wrong to rule out David James just yet.

Three of the back four would appear definite starters when the serious business begins, but there has to be a question mark over Johnson. Responsible for Japan's goal in Austria, Johnson committed the foul on Muzi Mashaba that led to the penalty Bradley Grober missed. Jamie Carragher, meanwhile, looked confident and composed, as he has done in all three warm-up games.

After the match, Gareth Barry confirmed he would sit out Saturday's game, even though he returns to full training on Tuesday.

'I've been told I need more time,' he said.

That would suggest Gerrard and Lampard will be together in the centre. If Capello was hoping for the Eureka moment when their particular midfield conundrum was finally solved, it did not come.

As the only player who featured in both halves, Joe Cole probably feels he has secured the left midfield berth.

He scored a 65th-minute goal after a surging run from Rooney was followed by an inch-perfect pass that Cole collected before curling a neat shot home.

Cole was busy but some of his passes were poor, and he could yet come under pressure from James Milner, who was impressive going forward and provided the cross from the left that Rooney volleyed home terrifically in the 83rd minute.

Lennon seems to have the edge on Shaun Wright-Phillips, who nonetheless did well again, providing a super third-minute pass that Gerrard accelerated on to before presenting Defoe with a simple finish.

Defoe had a better game than Peter Crouch, who must have blown the chance to play ahead of Heskey.

'The important thing was that nobody got injured,' said Capello before adding he hoped to see some 'spectacular things' while on safari.

Something spectacular from the Three Lions would please him more.
 
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