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Sunday, March 28, 1999 Published at 07:34 GMT

Sport: Football

Scholes gives Keegan winning start

Scholes scores England's debatable second goal

England 3-1 Poland

Paul Scholes kicked off Kevin Keegan's reign as England coach in triumphant fashion, with a superb hat-trick to secure victory over Poland in the crunch Euro 2000 clash at Wembley.

Alan Green reports for BBC Radio 5 Live
The Manchester United star claimed two goals in the first half - the second in controversial style - before adding a third to secure the win 20 minutes from time.

It was the first hat-trick for an England player since Ian Wright grabbed a treble against San Marino in a World Cup 94 qualifier.

Scholes' individual efforts aside, it was a far from vintage display from England - but Keegan will be unconcerned after his side got their European Championship challenge back on track.

[ image: Cole sends Siadaczka flying with a late tackle]
Cole sends Siadaczka flying with a late tackle
England, who had to win the game after some disappointing results under Keegan's predecessor Glenn Hoddle, appeared nervy at times and unable to stamp their authority on the opposition - but they were still able to create a host of chances and were always on top of a scrappy affair.

Andy Cole, making his first start, missed a number of openings, but he linked well up front with strike partner Alan Shearer, while Tim Sherwood had an impressive debut in midfield.

Defensively, though, England looked shaky at times and Keegan will not have been impressed at the ease with which Poland were able to force their way back into the contest at 2-1.

Cool Scholes

England owed their success to an early charge in the Wembley sunshine.

Alan Shearer came close to scoring a typically spectacular goal after eight minutes, but his thumping volley from Gary Neville's cross faded just wide.

But two minutes later England were ahead.

[ image: Beckham holds off a challenge from Trzeclak]
Beckham holds off a challenge from Trzeclak
Graeme Le Saux's high-ball from the left was tapped back by Andy Cole on the edge of the area for Shearer.

The England captain lost the ball under pressure from a posse of defenders, but it broke for Scholes, who calmly slotted it past on-rushing Polish keeper Adam Matysek.

The second goal was crafted on the Old Trafford training pitch, as three Manchester United players combined after 21 minutes to finish off a sweet move.

Kevin Keegan: "It was a tremendous performance"
The livewire Cole sent David Beckham clear on the right with a clever reverse pass and the midfielder put over a stunning first-time cross which Scholes flicked into the far corner of the net.

The sweeping build-up was England's best moment of the first half - even though TV replays questioned the legitimacy of the goal, with the ball appearing to deflect off Scholes' arm.

Polished Poland

Poland had their first genuine chance two minutes later when the England defence failed to pick up Miroslaw Trzeclak from a corner, but he sent his shot blazing over the bar.

England had not seen the warning signs, though, and Poland were back in the game after 28 minutes.

Trzeclak roasted Neville on the left flank and cut the ball back from the byline for his captain Jerzy Brzeczek, who beat the back-tracking defence and put a left-foot shot past a despairing David Seaman into the bottom corner.

Cole misfires

England could have re-established their two-goal advantage five minutes after the second half stuttered into life, but first Shearer's far-post prod was saved on the line and then Cole swivelled and fired over the bar from 12 yards.

Cole had a glorious chance to make it 3-1 after 64 minutes.

Centre-half Martin Keown proved a surprise play-maker with a run deep into Polish territory before slipping the ball to Cole on the edge of the area - but instead of shooting first time, the United striker took one touch too many and put a weak shot into the side netting.

With 20 minutes left Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour was given a debut in place of the ineffective Steve McManaman.

Treble top

Within seconds of the change England had scored again - and Scholes had his hat-trick.

Alan Shearer: "We played some fantastic football"
Shearer got his head to a long-throw and flicked the ball deep into the Polish box, where Scholes thumped a powerful header past Matysek.

A slip by Le Saux almost allowed Poland to make it 3-2, but substitute Kowalczyk failed to take advantage of his blunder and fired across the face of goal.

Cole went close with a near-post header, Scholes almost claimed his fourth with a long-range drive and Sherwood headed just over in the last minute of the game.

The day belonged to Keegan and, in particular, Scholes who was given a standing ovation when he was replaced in the dying minutes - before returning at the final whistle to claim his match ball.


England: Seaman, G. Neville, Le Saux, Sherwood, Keown, Campbell, Beckham, Scholes, Shearer, Cole, McManaman. Subs: P Neville, Southgate, Ferdinand, Redknapp, Parlour, Armstrong, Martyn.

Poland: Matysek, Bak, Lapinski, Ratajczyk, Zielinski, Hajto, Swierczewski, Iwan, Siadaczki, Brzeczek, Trzeclak. Subs: Czerwiec, Waldoch, Juskowiak, Klos, Michalski, Kowalczyk, Sidorczuk.

Referee: V Melo-Pereiro (Portugal

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