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Kevin Keegan talks to the BBC's Mike Ingham
"Our play was below standard"
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Radio 5 Live's Alan Green
Post match summary from Valetta
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Sunday, 4 June, 2000, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
Close shave for shaky England
Martin Keown
Martin Keown celebrates his second international goal
Malta 1-2 England

Emile Heskey's first international goal was enough to give England a deserved if uninspired win in the heat of the Mediterranean - but it took two late saves from debutant Richard Wright to seal the win.

Having already conceded a first-half penalty, Wright gave away a second spot-kick at the death but made a sprawling stop before blocking an even better chance seconds before the final whistle.

Despite dominating possession, Kevin Keegan's men were unable to end their Euro 2000 build-up with a confidence-boosting sackful of goals.

Scholes, Campbell, Ince and Heskey all spurned good chances as Malta, with a team made up mainly of part-timers, tired in the afternoon heat.

Heskey side-footed home the winner on 76 minutes after excellent work from Barmby left him with an open goal five yards out.

In their last competitive game before Euro 2000, England had taken the lead from that most obvious yet dangerous of sources, a Beckham free-kick from the right.


Kevin Phillips
Phillips tangles with Theuma
With the Maltese defence in disarray, Keown stooped unmarked to head in at the far post.

Barmby, looking lively throughout, came close to making it two moments later. Gary Neville overlapped down the right and looped in a cross that the Everton midfielder put too close to the keeper.

Then, to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd, Malta were level.

Wright came tentatively to meet a long through-ball, flapped, and only succeeded in bringing Carabott down.

Carabott dusted himself off, scored, was ordered to retake and duly dispatched the ball again - albeit off the post and the back of Wright's head.

Diamond

After his diamond of a cameo against Ukraine, Barmby again did his case for inclusion on the left of midfield a power of good.

Always looking to switch with Wise in the centre, his movement created space against a team who frequently put eleven men behind the ball.

Under such conditions, Barmby's ability to spot a late run and slip a pass through became even more valuable. Only a stretch and tipover from keeper Barry denied him a goal after a clever chip midway through the second half.

In February, Barmby was nowhere near the England squad. Now, having arrived with a vengeance, he is close to guaranteeing himself a place in Keegan's starting eleven.

More worryingly for England, the centre-back pairing of Keown and Campbell looked anything but solid.

Intelligent

The intelligent running of Busuttil caught them out on a number of occasions, which raises concerns about what the rather more experienced Luis Figo could do when England meet Portugal in nine days time.

Kevin Keegan would have learnt little else from this Malteaser he did not already know. Kevin Phillips had that slightly desperate look of all fringe players who have been left precious little time to impress.

He ran hard and won himself a couple of half-chances but was unable to break his international duck, and must now fear he sits behind the Shearer, Owen, Heskey and Fowler in the Euro 2000 pecking-order.


Malta: Barry (Muscat 90), Debono (Camilleri 34), Buttigieg (Chetcutti 55), Said (Dimech 78), Spiteri (Okonkwo 78), Carrabott (Cinatar 90), Vella (Theuma 41), Turner (Veselji 87), Busuttil (Nwoko 46), Brincat (Holland 83), Agius (Mallia 60).

England: Wright, G Neville, Keown (Southgate 59), Campbell, P Neville, Beckham (Barry 80), Wise (Ince 69), Scholes (McManaman 69), Barmby, Shearer (Heskey 51), Phillips (Fowler 59). Subs (Not used): Martyn, Owen.

Referee: S Braschi (Italy).

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See also:

03 Jun 00 | England
Malta v England: Clockwatch
04 Jun 00 | Photo Gallery
Malta 1-2 England: in pictures
03 Jun 00 | England
Keegan disappointed but upbeat
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