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Last Updated: Friday, 16 November 2007, 21:55 GMT



By Saj Chowdhury

Peter Crouch and Michael Owen
Strikers Crouch and Owen suffered contrasting fortunes in Vienna
Peter Crouch's headed goal was enough to give England victory over Austria in Vienna but their win was marred by an injury to striker Michael Owen.

Owen limped off in the first half after suffering a thigh strain and will miss next Wednesday's potentially crucial Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia.

Crouch grabbed his goal on the stroke of half-time when he headed in David Beckham's corner from the left.

Crouch also missed with a header in the second half as the match petered out.

England will now prepare for their final Euro 2008 qualifier hoping that by the time they step out on to the pitch to face Croatia their dreams of returning to Austria are still alive.

This, of course, largely depends on Israel preventing Russia from winning on Saturday.

And for the first 30 minutes of the friendly it seemed Steve McClaren's XI were resigned to the belief they were going to be spending next summer watching the championship on television.

To put it politely, the opening exchanges were tepid on a chilly night at Vienna's Ernst Happel Stadion, although there was a major incident that involved Austria goalkeeper Jurgen Macho.

606: DEBATE

The former Sunderland player came off worst in a collision with Crouch and needed urgent attention inside the area after appearing to swallow his tongue.

Macho recovered but was still dazed and was consequently stretchered off to be replaced by Alex Manninger.

The former Arsenal keeper was almost immediately called into action when he palmed over Owen's 16-yard effort, after the Newcastle forward was fed in by Crouch's backheel.

Unfortunately, that was Owen's last bit of action, as the injury-prone striker was forced to come off after pulling up with a thigh strain.

He will now be out for a month and will miss what could be England's most important match since their World Cup encounter with Portugal last year.

However, the injury did not have a negative effect on the England players, in fact the XI, now joined by Jermain Defoe, appeared to move up the gears.

Joe Cole, who was to be replaced at half-time, came close to giving his side the lead when he skipped into the area after receiving a chested pass from Crouch.

Steve McClaren and David Beckham
McClaren acknowledges Beckham's efforts as the player comes off

However, the Chelsea midfielder's attempt to get to the ball was thwarted by the alert Manninger who then saw Crouch's follow-up blocked by Rene Aufhauser.

Moments later, England's bout of pressure paid dividends when Crouch scored his 13th goal in 23 international appearances.

The lanky Liverpool hitman timed his leap to perfection to nod in Beckham's corner from the left.

Beckham, who came off for David Bentley in the second half, showed the 4,500 travelling support what they had been missing by conducting England's play from deep in midfield during his time on the pitch.

The second half followed the theme of the first 30 minutes - it promised to entertain but never really did.

McClaren handed Aston Villa winger Ashley Young his debut and of all the five substitutions he made the biggest impression, making a number of probing runs down the left.

One such run and cross found the head of Crouch who, unmarked, managed to direct his eight-yard effort straight at Manninger, who deflected the ball away to safety.

Euro 2008 co-hosts Austria offered little in the game. Lone striker Sanel Kuljic, substituted in the second half, was provided with inadequate service despite his best attempts to make a nuisance of himself.

Their highlight came courtesy of Andreas Ivanschitz, whose low cross after a sprightly burst down the left was hooked away to safety before reaching the feet of Kuljic.


Austria: Macho (Manninger 25), Standfest (Kavlak 78), Schiemer, Gercaliu, Stranzl (Hiden 86), Sariyar (Harnik 65), Aufhauser, Ivanschitz, Garics, Weissenberger (Kienast 46), Kuljic (Leitgeb 46).
Subs Not Used: Ertl, Fuchs, Saumel, Patocka.

England: Carson, Richards, Campbell (Brown 46), Lescott, Bridge, Beckham (Bentley 62), Gerrard (Barry 46), Lampard, Joe Cole (Young 46), Crouch (Smith 73), Owen (Defoe 34).
Subs Not Used: James, Ashley Cole, Shorey, Neville, Downing, Robinson, Wright-Phillips.

Goals: Crouch 44.

Att: 39,432

Ref: Nicolai Vollquartz (Denmark).



SEE ALSO
Injured Owen to miss Croatia game
16 Nov 07 |  Internationals
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15 Nov 07 |  Internationals
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Austria v England photos
16 Nov 07 |  Football


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