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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 November 2005, 13:57 GMT
Eriksson hails strike partnership
England strike duo Michael Owen (left) and Wayne Rooney
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson lauded his strike pairing of Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney after their roles in a dramatic 3-2 win over Argentina.

Owen scored two late goals while Rooney was England's star performer.

"Michael Owen is a top goalscorer, one of the best in the world. In the big games, he's always there and he's shown that for many years," said Eriksson.

On Rooney, he said: "He is the complete footballer and he's still only 20. That's not bad."

The Swede added: "Rooney made a huge impact. He's considered one of the best players in the world and I hope that he will show the same form next summer.

"He can do everything, he was even winning headers against their centre-backs, which was incredible."

Owen, whose brace took his England tally to 35, had been kept quiet until his two headers in the last five minutes of a thrilling friendly in Switzerland.

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
Big football countries have a lot of respect for England and a lot of our players
Sven-Goran Eriksson

And Eriksson said: "What more can I say about Michael Owen. If he gets three chances he will score at least two. That is Michael Owen."

The England manager also defended Peter Crouch, who came on to supplement his attack as the side chased the game at 2-1 down.

Crouch was booed when he came on in England's last game against Poland but Eriksson continued: "Maybe the crowd will stop booing him now.

"He showed again that he's a special type of player and he was very important for us when he came on."

England and Argentina have a long history of football rivalry and, despite the match being a friendly, there was a strong intensity surrounding the game.

"I always said we would not treat it as a normal friendly and we wanted to win as much as Argentina did," added Eriksson.

"It is good for our confidence and the confidence of our fans, maybe our Fifa ranking will also now be better.

"Big football countries have a lot of respect for England and a lot of our players.

"Argentina are ranked second in the world and they had all their best players here so it is a fantastic achievement by our players."

Looking ahead to next summer's World Cup finals, Eriksson said: "I have always had belief, since the start of qualifying, that we would reach Germany and have a very good World Cup.

We have beaten the second best team in the world - but we have to take this performance into the World Cup and do the same there
David Beckham

"I still think we are one of five or six teams who can win it - and this was a very good answer on the pitch too."

Owen echoed his manager's sentiments and said: "There was so much more to it than a friendly. Even when they scored their fans and players were going mad.

"It really could have gone either way - they had chances too - and it shows there is not much to choose between the top few teams in the world."

England captain David Beckham warned over getting carried away by their victory.

"The performance is the biggest thing for us," Beckham said.

"What we have to take away from this game is that it was only a friendly - and we have to do what we did here in the big competitions.

"Okay we have beaten the second best team in the world, but we have to take this performance into the World Cup and do the same there."

Argentina coach Jose Pekerman was in philosophical mood after his side's defeat.

He said: "That is hard but it is an experience of life. It is hard to lose a game in the last few minutes but we have to accept that. It is football.

"Wayne Rooney is a key player. He is very dangerous and aggressive.

"I always knew that England was a tough team with very good players. They will play a key role at the World Cup."

Interview: England striker Wayne Rooney

Interview: England head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson

Interview: England captain David Beckham

Interview: England striker Michael Owen

Pick your England XI
03 Oct 05 |  Internationals


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